Tag Archives: Seconds Before Sunrise review

Writing with Barbie

19 Apr

Prepare for laughter during today’s post. But – before we get onto the giggles – I want to share two important bits of news.

Paris Carter reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, stating, “The novel also includes several internal struggles for Eric and Jess that sparks tension throughout the entire novel, and it’s the chaos of them struggling to work out their answers and fight themselves that bring Shannon’s novel to a second dimension.” Read the entire review here or check out his review of Minutes Before Sunset first.

I also participated in an interview with Doodles, doodles everywhere. We talked about what hurts me the most as a writer, and I expanded on the research that went behind The Timely Death Trilogy. Check it out.

It’s been a few days since I participated in my first podcast interview, but I wanted to write about something fun since my last post was rather dreary. That’s when my mind immediately returned to The Lurking Voice. (Just a small, Kansas City update though, they found the Highway Shooter, so things feel a lot better around here. Maybe that’s why I’m so eager to post something I can laugh at…I mean, laugh with you…as you laugh at me.)

Back to the topic.

If you listened to the full interview – which you can by clicking here – then you know that I confessed to many writing strategies that I haven’t mentioned before, although “strategies” will quickly turn into a debatable term during this post. My ultimate, reluctant confession happened when we discussed November Snow, my first published novel.

I was 11 when I started writing it and 16 when it was published. It’s safe to say that it isn’t my best work, but I am planning on re-writing it. As we were discussing this, Ryan Attard asked a great question. How does a preteen plan a novel out? That’s when I said it.

November Snow was based on a game that I played out with my Barbie dolls as a much younger kid. Now, if you’ve read November Snow, then you might be concerned, considering how violent the book is, but there’s no need to be concerned – (I think.) That’s what I told my high school teachers anyway when I was asked about the dark nature of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Today, I wanted to share a funny truth to November Snow. No matter how dark the story is, many of my characters were actually based on the dolls I used. I admitted to it on the podcast, and now I am re-confessing it on here. Even better, I dug through some boxes, and I found the old toys, so I’m sharing a few of them as well as small excerpts from the novel that proves this goofy aspect of my writing.

You’ve been warned.

A little background before we begin:

November Snow is a young-adult, dystopian novel, and it 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 three pictures, and each picture has numerous characters on it. Below each picture, I will have a one-sentence background, and below that, I’ll be sharing the real excerpt from the novel. I’ll also include page numbers as well as who was telling the story at the time (Daniel or Serena.) I am also including a little note, explaining how my 11-year-old brain worked. Got that? Okay. I even think I’m lost, but trust me – it’s organized. Hope you chuckle as much as I did writing this post! Traveling to the past can be a funny adventure.

First picture: from the left to the right: Robert, Daniel, and Calhoun. 

theboys

Robert: 19, leader of the Southern Flock (hates hugs)

“I turned around to see Robert’s dark brown eyes staring at me, and my heart lunged into my dry throat…He muttered something, his brown hair shagging in his face, and I laughed. “ (Serena, 156-7)

Note: Believe it or not, he’s not the antagonist. Sort of?

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

“The guy looked like Daniel. He had the brown, muffled hair and tanned skin. He even had the blue and white jacket down, but he wasn’t responding to his name.” (Serena, 181)

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

Calhoun: age unknown, Daniel’s mentor. (kind of a hard ass)

“From the bottom step he could have been mistaken for a modern-day giant. His face was strong, as were his muscles, and he looked like he could barely fit into the sweater he was wearing. He had been in a POW accident, in which he had lost one of his arms, but he refused to tell the story. Normally, he had a fake arm in, but tonight, a gray sleeve dangled at his side, blowing in the chilled November wind.” (Daniel, 25)

Note: if you listened to the podcast, then you know this character actually ended up being very similar to my real father. Except my dad has both arms. And he’s not a vet. But I swear they are alike.

Second Picture: from left to right: Daisy and Maggie

girls

 Daisy: 16, member of the Southern Flock (I hate her.) 

She doesn’t deserve a note or description. Seriously. Have you ever hated your own characters so much that you regret bringing them into existence? I think Daisy might be in my top three of characters I’ve created and despised. #authorproblems.

Maggie: 16, member of the Northern Flock. (crushes on Adam in private)

“The front door opened, and Maggie walked in. She was wearing a small, pink coat and white disco pants that had gone out of style a century ago, but she still pulled them off easily.” (Daniel, 240)

Note: is it just me or is Daniel incredibly aware of fashion trends?

Third picture: from left to the right: Amy, Justin, and Marisa

Now for the youngsters, the category of characters that caused one of my high school teachers to ask if I needed to talk to someone after she read my novel and discovered only a few of the characters survive. (Seriously. It’s on the back of the book…) From left to right, we have Amy, Justin, and Marisa.

kids

Amy: 14, member of the Southern Flock. (Hates being called “Amy.” Her name is Amiel Marie Young.) 

“Amy’s hair was tied back in a French braid.” (Serena, 144)

Note: So this was more of a hairstyle thing, and you can’t really see it in the doll anymore, but it was there. I promise.

Justin: 6, member of the Southern Flock (borderline obsessed with hockey)

“Justin, blond-haired and brown eyed, was whisked off his feet by the collar of his shirt.” (Daniel, 479)

Note: There’s actually a hockey scene in the book just for this hockey-themed doll. (I really have no shame as I share this, do I?)

Marisa: 7, member of the Northern Flock (too small to crush on Adam, but apparently, all the girls like Adam…maybe I should’ve shared Adam.)

“A small girl struggled her way into Adams’s lap and leaned her bony elbows onto the table. She had long, brown pigtails that rested on the wiggling table and innocent eyes.” (Daniel, 44)

Note: The hair is there. The hair is totally there.

So there you go. My young-adult novel that almost got me in trouble as a teen was originally created during playtime as a kid.

Try to figure that one out.

I sure haven’t.

~SAT

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

If you want to check out the collector’s first edition, click here.

 

The Controversy of Rating and Reviewing Novels

8 Mar

Readers and writers, please take a moment to read this anti-bullying petition that can help the reader-writer relationship as well as the book market:  Protect Amazon.com Users and Indie Publishing Authors from Bullying and Harassment by Removing Anonymity and Requiring Identity Verification for Reviewing and Forum ParticipationWe may not be able to stop all trolls, but we can and should take a stand against them. Let’s make the internet a more positive place for all.

Beyond that, I wanted to thank The Novel List for reading and reviewing Seconds Before Sunrise. “I was taken away by this new world Shannon A. Thomson created, and even when I put the book down, this world haunted my thoughts. It was addicting and ironic, haunting and mystical, hilarious and sophisticated. I cannot praise this author more for providing an unfamiliar perspective to YA fiction, and exploring new ideas that are clearly distinct and unique to her personality.” Read the full review here to find out what The Novel List never saw coming.

Last time, I wrote out a lot of tips for those readers who are starting up their own book blog. Today, I was going to discuss how to rate and review novels in the most appropriate way possible, but then I realized something: “appropriate” is very, VERY debatable. (We are not talking about the obvious ones: ex/ telling an author to go die. That is blatantly wrong. We are, instead, talking about review situations that are debatable.)

At first thought, it’s difficult to see how any controversy would come up during reviews, but here are just a few that I will be discussing:

  • Reviewing a novel one has not even read or only read a few pages of
  • Purposely reading a novel one knows they will hate
  • Judging a chronological series out of order

However, before we continue, I want to clarify that I am not encouraging reviewers to write reviews in any of these situations. I am also not discouraging them. Although I have my personal opinions about these situations, readers have the right to review novels at anytime for any reason. As a reader, I like to believe I am always respectable when I write a review. As an author, I would simply ask reviewers to clarify if these things happened during the reading process. (Ex/ stating you did not finish the book in the review.) The controversies below are not meant to hurt anyone. They are meant to remind ourselves to be positive no matter what. You do not have to respect someone’s opinion, but you should try to respect that they have the right to one.

1 STAR

1. Reviewing an unread novel

I’m starting with this one because it is the only one I will share my personal opinion on. Please, don’t. Just don’t. Even if your friend told you how horrible it was and you trust them, don’t. Even if you have seen the movie, don’t. Even if you hate things that author has previously written, don’t review their new pieces without reading it. Just don’t. I cannot even fathom a justification for reviewing a novel without picking it up at all. Other than simple hating, (like how readers did this to popular novels), I have seen this happen a lot when a novel challenges very personal issues, like politics, religion, or sex, but reviewing a novel you have not read is simply not appropriate. Finding a novel that you are willing to pick up is more important than tearing down novels you have never touched.

2. Reviewing an unfinished novel

This situation is a lot more understandable than the first one. The reader at least attempted to read the novel. In this case, a reviewer should state that they did not finish the piece, where they stopped, and/or why they shelved the novel. There are many reasons for dropping a novel, including lack of interest, annoyance with a character, or disagreeable prose. Explaining your reason will allow your review to still be helpful to potential readers. For instance, you could say, “This novel was too descriptive.” Even with a one-star, a reader who likes very descriptive prose will find this helpful.

3. Judging a chronological series out of order

I’ve seen it happen. Someone reads book three of a seven book series, realizes it, and still reviews it poorly anyway because they were confused. Of course they’re confused. They missed four books. That’s like watching the newest episode of The Walking Dead and expecting to understand everything. Some reviewers think this is okay because it will let potential readers know if the novels are stand alones, but if you’re going to review it out of order– just say you read it out of order.  (Fun fact: I accidentally read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Mediator series out of order, but I still loved them. However, I went back and read the beginning books before I ever wrote a review.)

two-star-rating

Beyond that, I wanted to include a shortened list of two more situations that I believe reviewers should state if their review was affected from them:

– If you hate or love a genre: picking up high fantasy when you hate everything fantasy means you know you will probably be rating a novel down. I encourage readers to try new genres, but if you know your tastes automatically affected your thoughts, just mention it. This will be helpful for readers, because it will show if that particular novel appeals to new readers of the genre.

– If any outside event affected your reading mood – We get it. We’re all human. Reading a novel on an airplane compared to reading in your comfy bed at home can affect how much you enjoy what you’re reading. If you’re in the middle of finals, stress could cause you to drop the book halfway through with no hard feelings against the book. You don’t have to tell us that you lost your job. Just state that if you think your sour mood might have affected your reading state. That’s much nicer than simply rating it one star without knowing for sure that it was the book or your feelings that week.

Basically, by keeping these situations in mind, readers can remind themselves that an author – who probably worked months if not years on a novel – is not being judged unfairly. While readers have the right to review a novel whenever and however they like, practicing mutual respect is vital in keeping a healthy reading environment. 

To conclude this piece, I want to share a wonderful quote that Ky Grabowski shared on her blog: “Write about the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written.”

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

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