Tag Archives: Stephen King

Is it Possible to Read Too Much as a Writer?

5 Jan

Last year, I read 167 books according to Goodreads. Granted, this is a mixture of everything under the publishing sun: adult fiction, YA, MG, graphic novels, and, yes, even picture books. My job at the library has definitely broadened my reading sphere, for which I’m super grateful. (I never knew picture books could be so extensive—and gorgeous! When I was a little, I feel like we had two options: Dr. Seuss and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. But that’s beside the point.)

I read a lot, and lately I’ve wondered if I read too much.

Is that even possible? (Especially for a writer.)

I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think this question has a simple answer, as it depends on the writer’s life: how much free time they have, their access to books, how reading affects them, their writing goals etc. If, for instance, you are on a serious deadline, you probably need to put writing ahead of reading in order to meet that. In contrast, if you’re a new writer, it’s recommended you spend more time reading in order to understand storytelling, the market’s needs, etc. As Stephen King famously said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.”

But what happens when you spend all your time reading and not writing?

When I look back on 2018, I know I read a lot more than I wrote, which is fine. Between starting two new jobs and having to move, writing often felt like too much. But I could handle reading. It was my reprieve from everything else. Writing usually is as well, but almost every time I sat down to write, I felt way too weighed down by everything else. Now that I’m more adjusted to my new life, though, I feel a bit burnt out on reading—and yet, I’ve struggled to tune down my reading time to make more room for writing. Why? Maybe I got used to reading more and writing less, and now I have to readjust again. Who knows. One thing that’s helped me is taking my laptop to work and writing during my lunch break; then, when I come home, reading. It’s still a lot more reading time and less writing time, but I’m hoping the slow adjustment helps my writer’s brain turn back on.

It’s such an isolating feeling watching your fellow writers crank out chapter after chapter when you’re only reading them. But reading is definitely good for writers too. That being said, I have a goal of reading less this year. I spent so little time writing I feel like I need to re-fill that well in my life. So far, writing during my lunch breaks has helped me write more than when I was trying to sit down at home. Even if it’s only a couple hundred words a week, it’s enough. I can see my word count moving again, and I can feel myself getting into the motion of writing more. I’m being more critical about the books I take home, and putting down ones that I don’t want to finish (instead of forcing myself through them).

In the end, I don’t think I spent too much time reading this year, because of my circumstances. It was right for me at the time. But I definitely can see how reading can take over a writer’s life if they aren’t careful. (I mean, most of us started writing out of a love for reading, right?)

In the end, I think a writer can spend too much time reading. But they can also spend too much time writing, or querying, or editing, etc. It’s all about balance and figuring out what works for you.

So what do you think? Can a writer spend too much time reading?

~SAT

P.S. I’m blogging again. Thanks for your patience! To be honest, I have a very small goal of posting once a month (on the first Saturday), but I hope you enjoy them regardless!

P.P.S I’m also posting TAKE ME TOMORROW on Wattpad again, with the plan to follow up with the sequel. I plan on blogging about the decision, but you can read more about that on Wattpad by clicking here. A new chapter goes up every Saturday! I hope you’ll stop by and support me.

The Ideal Writing Pace

19 Jun

Writing is a different experience for everyone. Just check out the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter and you will see authors hitting 50,000 words in two weeks…and in two years.

So how long should it take to write your book?

Stephen King claims to give up on a book if you can’t finish the first draft in three months. Others claim a book is rushed if it doesn’t demand years of your attention. But here’s the deal—

I used to run in Track & Field, and Track & Field taught me something important that I think the writing community could benefit from. (Stick with me for a second, okay?) I competed in races all year long. I thought I knew what the end-goal was in Track & Field… Whoever was fastest was the best. And the fastest girl on our team was a girl I’ll call Darla.

Darla was fast—like super fast—and since I was running long distance for the first time (when I was used to sprinting races), I tried to keep up with her. She was the fastest, after all, and I was able to run at her pace. (Not that I enjoyed it.) One time, while we were running a practice race (and I was majorly struggling), she turned to me and asked why I hadn’t found my own pace. My own pace. This concept blew my mind. I never considered how fast I “wanted” to run or what speed I was comfortable running. No way! I had only considered the start line, the finish line, and nothing in between…you know, because this was a literal race. But this was Track & Field. Your team isn’t judged for each little race, but rather all of your team’s races combined. It was about winning together as a team, not competing against one another, and above all, we were supposed to enjoy the run. (We were in seventh grade, after all, but twelve-year-old Shannon was just as competitive and way-too serious as modern me.)

That being said, I quit Track & Field the next year. Not because I wasn’t fast enough, but because I finally found my pace. And my pace was writing instead of running. Though, I admit running was still my exercise of choice growing up, I learned an important lesson from running that I’ve carried into my writing life.

Finding my own pace is key, not only for my health but also for my happiness.

If that means I write 50,000 words in two weeks, awesome. But it’s also awesome if it takes me two years.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with this. It took me two months to finish my first manuscript of 2017, including a significant amount of editing. Two months. And now I’m halfway through June without a second manuscript. That’s four months on one project. I’ve been working on it twice as long as my previous project, but I’m barely halfway through a first draft. (This is probably the opportune time to mention I’m slightly obsessive about numbers… and I’m a competitive person by nature, so I’ll turn anything into a competition, including competitions with myself. So, sigh…) I feel as if I’ve been writing sooooooo slowly. And I’m struggling with that confession.

As someone who is competitive, I understand how overwhelming seeing others’ word counts can feel. Sometimes, word counts can start to feel more important than feeling good about those words you wrote down. But I try to keep that Track & Field lesson in mind.

We’re in this together. Some of us will write 50,000 words in two weeks, some of us cringe at that idea, but we will all reach the “finish line” together. And the more we enjoy the middle, the better the “race” will feel. Though…I forgot to mention the most important fact about this post. Writing isn’t a race at all. This is a journey. There isn’t a set finish line. There isn’t even a solid start line. (I often can’t tell you when I first got an idea for a specific project, for instance.) But your happiness should matter. If it takes two months or two years, it shouldn’t matter. What matters is how much you enjoyed the writing process.

Find your writing pace, and enjoy your journey.

~SAT

February’s Ketchup

29 Feb

First thing is first, you can read my latest interview with Laugh Riot Press via their monthly newsletter, the Laugh Riot Report. We discuss writing tips, publishing tips, and how to market yourself while writing your next book. Read that by clicking here. (You don’t have to sign up to read the interview, but I highly suggest signing up for the Laugh Riot Report. Read more about it by clicking here.) Why should you sign up for this newsletter? Well, once a month, Laugh Riot Press collects 12 extremely helpful articles for writers navigating the self-publishing world. These articles are handpicked as leading information in the industry. I’m a huge fan of LRP…and on top of that awesome deal, they are hosting a giveaway for a signed copy of Workman’s Complication right now. Enter via Rafflecopter here.  

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This was one crazy (but short) month! Between radio interviews and book signings, I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down, but it was a wonderful problem to have.

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 February.

Big Moments:

I had a book signing in Barnes & Noble in Wichita, Kansas during the Romance Author Valentine’s Day Event! It was a blast and a pure joy to share the day with Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerJan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan. I even got to met a few dozen readers, and sitting down with you all is something I will never forget! I hope I can travel further and longer in the future to meet even more of you. Thank you for coming out!

Other than that, I had my first in-studio radio interview at Johnson County Community College. That was pretty crazy! That very day, Bad Bloods went up on Amazon, but the eBook won’t be up for preorder for another month or so. Out of celebration, I gave out the first sneak preview of Bad Bloods to everyone on my newsletter, and I received a lot of emails from you all expressing how much you’re looking forward to my next series! Thank you for your support and kind messages.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

Top Three Blog Posts:

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

#1 referrer other than search engines was Tumblr

1. No. Reading is Not an Option: As a full-time editor and author, I have come across more and more writers who believe they don’t have to read in order to be a writer. I adamantly disagree, and I stand by my opinion—and Stephen King’s opinion—that you must read A LOT in order to be a writer. So go out there and fall in love with reading again.

2. How I Became a Full-Time Editor: Many of you have asked and I have finally answered. Long story short: I fell into it, but I give out a lot of tips on how you can pursue your dreams of becoming a full-time editor today.

3. Fandoms vs Mobs: I’m really saddened by how much fandom culture has changed. It’s more or less a mob now, rather than an exciting and supportive place for all types of fans to join together. This was my article addressing how we can get supportive again.

Other Blog Posts:

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

#1 SEO Term was Title Your Novel

Choosing a Setting: It’s not that difficult! There are plenty of tools on in the Internet to help you.

Saturdate: Today’s Book Signing, The Infinite Sea, Shameless, and Puppy Chow: I had a book signing in a Barnes & Noble, which was way too much fun. I also read the sequel to a movie adaptation and discussed why sweets are the best.

Why Do You Read: I always talk about why I write, but I rarely talk about why I read.

Saturdate: Signed Books, Cherry Cookies, Everything, Everything, and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles: My weekly update included an opportunity to buy signed books of The Timely Death Trilogy, an awesome 2016 read, and a horror show based off of Lizzie Borden.

Music Muse and Tricks: This post covers how to trick your brain and get inspired by using music as a tool.

Authors I’ve Met Who Inspired Me: I have had the joy of meeting quite a few authors in my life, but I’ll never forget the first three authors who took time out of their day to sit down and talk to me about why I should never give up.

Saturdate: The 5th Wave, The Siren, Radio Interview, & Peanut Butter Cookies: I had a radio interview in a studio, which was pretty neat!

How to Use Real-Life Stories in Your Novel: I tackle an idea that seems black and white but isn’t always. Using real-life stories in your books can come with ethical issues and memory problems.

Website Wonders: A monthly classic

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#WritingTips No, Reading Is Not An Option.

17 Feb

As an author and full-time editor, I’m coming across more and more writers who don’t read their own genre, or—even worse—don’t read at all. There are generally two types of these writers.

1. Writers who claim to read but obviously don’t (and I’ll get to how it is obvious later).

2. Writers who haven’t read anything since they left high school twenty years ago.

Spoiler Alert: Neither of these options is okay.

Writers, please, oh please, you must read—and you must read often, especially in your own genre. As the famous Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” I adamantly agree with him.

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Reading is the foundation of writing. Much like how crawling helps a child learn how to walk, then run, and so on, reading helps a writer learn how to form sentences, structure a plot, and introduce something new and interesting to the market. That last one is a big deal (and I think the most overlooked one). This is also the main way agents/publishers/readers figure out you’re lying if you claim to read but you don’t. Recently, I was reading an article from an agent who was talking about his number one pet peeve in query letters. There is a huge trend in writers saying, “My work is better than anything X genre has ever produced.” This signaled to him that A. You don’t read X genre, and B. You don’t respect your own genre, fellow co-workers, or your readers. So why are you writing in this genre? He’s not the only one with this opinion either. Another article by Writer’s Digest pokes fun of this trend: 10 Ways to Never Get Published.

Constantly reading allows you to familiarize yourself with the genre and to see how the genre grows. As an example, I’ve seen MAJOR changes in young adult since I was fourteen. (And they are awesome changes!) But if I had stopped reading YA when I started seriously writing it, I wouldn’t know what readers are looking for. I wouldn’t know what has been done already. I wouldn’t know the appropriate language, word count, or topics/themes for that audience. I, basically, wouldn’t know anything. I wouldn’t have those “tools” Stephen King talked about in regards to writing.

So pick up a book. Pick up five. Try a new one, try an old one, try one you never thought you’d read, research the latest releases, talk to authors in your genre, study Writer’s Digest and Publishers Marketplace, and stay up-to-date on publishing conversations like #MSWL. Even if you’re not trying to get an agent or publisher, publishing feeds are great (and easy) places to read about current trends and market needs.

You’re not losing writing time by reading. In fact, you’re enhancing your writing by reading.

So go pick up that book you’ve been dying to read and fall back in love with reading all over again. After all, reading is the reason you started writing in the first place. Reading is why every writer started writing. Reading is why every writer can write.

~SAT

Have you checked out this amazing gift basket Clean Teen Publishing is giving away this month? It has over $130 worth of goodies including a Kindle Fire, several print novels, sweets, swag, and more! Enter to win here.

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If you would like a signed copy of any book in The Timely Death Trilogy, e-mail me at shannonathompson.com. Barnes & Noble in Wichita has a few copies left, and they will ship you one.

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1: FREE 

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksSmashwordsKoboGoodreads

This THURSDAY, I will host #AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 7 on Twitter at 7 PM (CDT) via @AuthorSAT. I normally host it on Friday, but a few of you have expressed Thursday as a better day, so I will probably test out the next four episodes (7-10) on Thursday to see which days are best. I hope to see you there!

#MondayBlogs Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know

16 Nov

Intro:

There are so many writing tips out there many writers don’t know where to start when they are looking for extra help. Sometimes, it’s as simple as starting with yourself, like your daily habits or your office space. Today, Heena Rathore P. is discussing writing rituals and how creating one can help energize your writing. Let’s welcome her!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

Writing Rituals: All You Need To Know by Heena Rathore P.

First of all I’d like to thank Shannon for letting me do a post for her amazing blog, Thanks a lot, Shannon!

What is a Writing Ritual?

Rituals, as defined in Merriam-Webster, are a series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone. So, in layman’s terms, Writing Rituals are nothing but these actions done specifically for writing or writing better.

In short, Writing Rituals are actions that trigger your creativity while shifting your mind into a mood for writing.

How are they beneficial?

Writing Rituals make sure that you are using the creative side of your brain to the fullest. Imagine yourself as a fitness freak who goes to gym every single day. Now, what is the one thing you would do before beginning the actual workout or the heavy workout? The answer is a warming up. So, to put it simply, Writing Rituals are important to prepare your brain to write, a creative warm up or a jumpstart, so to say.

As creative beings we all are well aware that if a writer is not in the mood for writing then he/she will most definitely NOT write and, as as a writer myself, I know firsthand that this happens quite often.

But, this can be easily avoided if you practice Writing Rituals.

To summarise, following are the benefits of Writing Rituals:

  • The ultimate cure for the much dreaded Writer’s Block.
  • Helps in writing better.
  • Helps in utilising the complete potential of your creative mind.
  • Saves a lot of time and emotional energy.
  • Helps in writing regularly.
  • Makes you more organised and disciplined.
  • Helps in successfully avoiding distractions.
Photo provided by Heena

Photo provided by Heena

How to create a Writing Ritual?

The name Writing Ritual sounds heavy, right? But creating one is simple, trust me. Just think about what really relaxes you?

A hot bath? A cup of tea? Meditation? Music? Dancing? Exercising? Jumping? Eating? Power-napping?

You can make any of these things a ritual. But the key is to treat it like one and with respect otherwise it won’t work.

For e.g., Scented candles, hot shower, soft cotton clothes and meditation help me relax. So, my Writing Ritual involves all theses things. I take a long, long hot shower, put on my cotton shorts and T, light a scented candle on my writing table and meditate for 5 minutes.

After doing this when I open my laptop, I feel like I’m totally ready to write. And that, my friends, is what is really important. You can’t write unless you feel ready to write.

Sometimes I also add a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate to my ritual.

Writing Rituals can be as simple as having a fixed place to write or writing in a certain position. Or they can be as complex as having to climb the mountaintop to write at a particular spot there. So, you see, it’s not difficult because it’s all upto you. In fact, it’s quite fun and I’m sure you’ll love doing it.
Just make sure that you do it regularly (each and everyday, if possible.)

Is there some science involved? 

The answer is, yes. As everyone knows, our brains are divided into two parts: Left Hemisphere and Right Hemisphere. Left hemisphere controls logical thinking whereas the right hemisphere controls creative thinking (in creative people right hemisphere is dominant.)

So, in order to use the right side of the brain it’s important to buzz out the left side entirely and trigger the right side. And this can be achieve only through relaxation. As far as my research goes, right side of the brain works flawlessly when a person is relaxed.

And Writing Rituals achieve this state quite efficiently.

Do famous authors have Writing Rituals?

Yes, as a matter of fact, most of the famous authors have their very own Writing Rituals. Right from Jane Austin to Stephen King, Mark Twain to Victor Hugo, everyone had/has one. Some are a lot simpler than others while others are a lot weirder.

If you find this subject interesting, you might want to check out these amazing articles:

What about you? Do you a Writing Ritual(s) of your own? Or are you convinced to have one now?

If you want to create one but feel that you can’t, then don’t hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to share your experience in the comments.

Heena Rathore P. (pic)Bio:

Heena Rathore P. is a writer from urban India. By profession she’s a freelance writer. Presently, she’s working on her first novel, Deceived, a psychological-thriller.

Apart from writing she loves spending her time reading and doing other creative stuff like painting, sketching and drawing.

She’s an introvert, a thinker, a neat freak, a voracious reader who is highly opinionated and a dog-lover.

You can connect with her at her Author Blog, Twitter, Instagram Goodreads or Facebook.

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday Emotionally Spamming Readers

15 Aug

Emotionally Spamming Readers

I want to talk about something unusual…at least for me as an author…and because I’ve never really seen an article discussing it (other than how to avoid it), I thought it would be fun to address it. Overwhelming your readers with spam. Rather than talk about literal spam, I want to talk about emotionally holding yourself back because you fear any announcement is spam. So, when I say “spam,” I’m not talking about an endless array of emails or tweets with no purpose. I’m talking about feeling guilty when you share news once or twice for various reasons. That’s the issue I want to address.

As many of you know, I started off this blog almost three years ago. I wrote every other day, and then, two years in, I took a one-month break where I changed my schedule to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays (and Mondays are for guests only). During my Wednesday and Saturdays posts, I’ve recently been sharing news at the end of the article. “Here’s an upcoming release!” or “Check out this giveaway!”

To be honest, I haven’t had a lot happening up until last month, and now, it’s endless. Blog tours, giveaways, release days, appearances, interviews, etc. Which is all FANTASTIC. Don’t get me wrong. I’m so giddy my rolly chair barely stays still. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t worried. Sometimes, at the end of my recent posts, my announcements are longer than my post, and the spam worries roll in:

Am I posting too much information? Should I choose between one interview and a giveaway? Do I look like I’m bragging? Is anyone even reading that part?

And then, I came to a personal conclusion—a conclusion I’m not always sure about, but one that brings me comfort and happiness, and that conclusion is that I enjoy sharing that news at the end of my blog posts.

Some recent (and wonderful) moments I shared, include meeting a blogger, finishing a manuscript, my eight-year anniversary, a great review, and holding my book in my hands.

Some recent (and wonderful) moments I shared, include meeting a blogger, finishing a manuscript, my eight-year anniversary, a great review, and holding my book in my hands.

For a long time—and I know I’m not alone in this—I hid my author life and accomplishments and current news, and when people asked about my career (or “hobby” as many put it), I gave a mundane answer like, “It’s going well.” instead of saying, “I have a blog tour coming up, and I just got back from meeting a long-time blogger friend in Atlanta.” Why did I do this to myself? Why did I hold back my excitement toward my career? Probably because, as many writers know, society rather pokes fun at writers who aren’t Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, but they weren’t always “them” either. One story that always sticks out to me is from the infamous King, who said he finally felt like a writer when he paid a plumber’s bill with his royalties. It didn’t matter who defined him; he defined him, and that’s how he did it. So, I’m working at accepting my pride as a writer—and not hubris, but simple pride for all the work I’ve done, and all of the readers who’ve done work to help me, and all the bloggers I’ve met, and all the moments we’ve shared. How do we share more moments if I continue to hold myself back by not sharing my latest news below my weekly articles? I have to share them, and I have to be okay with sharing them, and even more, I have to accept that I ENJOY sharing them without feeling guilty or worrying about if I’m spamming. As long as I have a purpose, and I’m not posting it wherever and whenever I can, it’s not spam; it’s a simple announcement about what’s going on in my author life. And if someone wants to read it, GREAT! If someone wants to just read my articles, that’s GREAT too!

This is my life, and my life isn’t spam.

It’s crazy, and wonderful, and I stumble over it every day, and for that, I am grateful.

~SAT

And now for those announcements I just discussed. ;]

Seconds Before Sunrise releases in less than two weeks! To celebrate, Clean Teen Publishing is hosting SO many giveaways. Win a paperback of Seconds Before Sunrise via a Goodreads Giveaway, and win a $15 Amazon gift card, CTP ebook, and bookmark swag pack during the Minutes Before Sunset blog tour; here are the latest posts where you can enter: Deal Sharing Aunt Interview, Mythical Books SpotlightThe Cheshire Cat’s Looking Glass Spotlight, and The Wonderings of One Person Spotlight.

If you want to participate in the next tour—where you can interview me, have guest posts, and more—sign up for the Seconds Before Sunrise tour here. You can also join my newsletter for more prize-winning opportunities…which brings me to my next announcement. CTP is hosting another Facebook party, where you can win prizes and talk to authors on August 28. I will definitely be there, and I hope you come too!

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Don’t forget to check out Minutes Before Sunset before the sequel releases at Amazon and Barnes & NobleIf you’ve already done that, here are the links to pre-order Seconds Before Sunrise (AmazonBarnes & Noble) and Death Before Daylight (AmazonBarnes & Noble). If you write a review and you want me to share it, please send it to me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I would be more than happy to do so!

Thank you for your support.

Stay Dark,

~SAT

#MondayBlogs: It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller

20 Jul

Intro:

I love infographics. How many times have I said that on here? They are fantastic. Quick, fun, and reliable, I’ve always had a good time seeing stats unfolded on a beautiful display for all to see, and this one is no exception. As writers, we are often way too hard on ourselves, and I know I worry about how I’m spending my time in regards to my writing career. Heck, even though I started at 16, I’ve been feeling down about turning 24 and waiting for my release dates to get back into the market. This infographic is sure to stop that sort of worry in its tracks. Today, thanks to Essaymama, we get to see where our favorite writers started, some as young as 13, others as late as 65.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them)

It’s Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Best Seller by Essay Mama

Do you think it is too late to leave your mark in the world literature and become an author of a new bestseller? Essaymama writing service doesn’t think so. Do you know that Virginia Woolf started writing at 27 years and become popular at 43 years after publishing “Mrs. Dalloway”? Do you know that Haruki Murakami was a bar manager till 29 years? And Charles Bukovski was a postman till his 40? Find out more from the following infographic and start writing right now, it is never too late.

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Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

9 May

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

As an author—but also as a marketer—I am constantly stressing the importance of being true to yourself and being true to your work. For instance, it’s a popular question to ask an author how long it took them to write a story. In turn, this has caused millions of debates about how long it should take. The infamous Stephen King, for example, has been quoted saying that writing a first draft shouldn’t take longer than three months, the length of a season. And to that, I say, pish posh. (Respectfully, of course.)

To me, it is ALWAYS more important to be true to the story than to meet a deadline. I mean, George R.R. Martin practically dedicated his life to writing A Song of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. Game of Thrones for you HBO fans), and he’s labeled as a serial fantasy genius. His first draft, I doubt, only demanded three months. But he didn’t care. All he cared about was writing it, so he wrote it, and he took as much time as he wanted to write it.

So what does this have to do with you?

Well, I see a lot of authors getting frazzled over writing advice or reading discussions or publishing debates or marketing tips or (insert panic now as I continue listing uncountable reasons for authors to worry). And it isn’t worth it. None of these worries are worth an author’s identity. Be you. That’s my number one rule when I talk to my clients about social media marketing as we create a plan for them. As an example, if you hate Facebook, stay off of it. There’s no reason you should be worrying yourself silly about likes and shares and outreach when you could be on Twitter with your favorites and retweets and hashtags. There’s no reason you should be throwing your precious writing time away for all the millions of things the Internet demands you to do, because—I’ll let you in on a little secret—no one can do it all. No one. So, it’s better to just do what you want to do.

beyou

This doesn’t go to say that this is easy. It’s not. There are many temptations that sneak into our time slots. It’s easy to be on Facebook and see an author who has 10,000 more likes than you and feel like you have to do what they do in order to get to where they are. But we have to stop focusing on getting to “where they are” and start focusing on getting to “where you want to be”. I get it. That can be a little confusing, especially when you “want” to be where they are. Those 10,000 likes look nice after all. But those are THEIR 10,000 likes. Those exact same 10,000 likes are not going to be the 10,000 likes you want for you and your book. You want your own 10,000 likes—likes you achieve by being you. But this is exactly where I see a popular problem arise. Authors are so focused on getting “more” followers that they forget to dedicate time to the followers they already have. The goal is not followers. The goal is being yourself.

That being said, you can definitely have more goals and look up to someone—admire their work ethic, respect their status, learn from them, etc.—but remind yourself that you are going to achieve your own goals your own way, and there’s no need to copy what others are doing. As an example, one author kept sharing exactly what another author with a larger follower was sharing. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to do anything. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Someone is already doing it.
  2. You’re trying to be them, not you.
  3. You’re sharing it for the wrong reasons. (For followers, not because you enjoy it.)

You have to be you and do what you want to do. When you do that, you will come through as a unique and wonderful voice, and people who like you will find you. There’s no need to worry or debate or copy or steal or take shots at one another.

Just be you, and everything else will fall into place.

~SAT

Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.

Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.

Are you a writer? As many of you know, I have guest bloggers every Monday. I accept original posts about anything to do with writing and reading. It can be as complicated as in-depth writing tips to as simple as how your favorite series affected your life. You do not have to be published to be a guest blogger. Bios, links, and photos are encouraged. Please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested.

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Writing Horror

23 Feb

Intro:

Monday brings us a new blog post by a new guest blogger.

Remember, if you want to guest blog, check out the information below this post, but be sure to read today’s post first! When author Alex Laybourne was asked why he chose to be a horror writer, he responded that horror chose him. Today, he is talking about the stigmas horror writers have to deal with in today’s market, but he goes much deeper than that, and his words are definitely worth the triumph in the end.

#MondayBlogs: The Stigma of Horror Writing

As a writer, I have found that there is a range of reactions that will come from that proclamation whenever anybody asks what I do. Sure, I have an office job, but I always respond with both of my jobs. Writing is, after all, a fulltime endeavour.

However, there is only one reaction that I get when people hear that I am a horror writer. It is usually accompanied by a slight step backwards, and they avert their gaze. Why? Well, I write horror. It must mean that I am about to try and murder them all for the sake of research. I mean, that is what I am, right? I am darkness. I must live in a basement where blood coats the walls and the screams of the damned are the lullaby upon which I drift off into the restful world of nightmares.

Blood of the Tainted ebook coverIn the modern world, writers are more and more approachable than ever, yet I still find that there is a stigma attached to being a horror writer. Maybe stigma is the wrong word, so let’s say that there is a certain level of expectation that comes with it.

To many people, horror is about blood, guts, and gore. What they know of horror is what they see in movies. Why is this? It is, in part, because people only think of slasher movies when they think of horror. Anything else seems to get the label of Psychological Thriller or some other titillating genre twist, which creates a feeling of expectant anticipation in the audience. Something that horror does not give.

Yet the truth behind it all is far different. We horror writers are no different than anybody else that puts ink to paper. We are no different than anybody else that goes to work in an office. Ok, our heads may be programmed in such a way that when we see certain things or hear certain snippets of a conversation we get ideas, but there are for plot and characters, rather than anything darker than that.

There is a very interesting wave of great horror writers out there at the moment, making waves in the indie scene and pushing the boundaries of genre to the limits and then some. I could throw around phrases like ‘ground breaking’ or ‘genre defining’ but I don’t wish to be labelled pretentious. All of these writers, these masters of the dark, are husbands or close to it. They are fathers and damned good ones. Hands on parents, too. They can be found watching cartoons or changing nappies (diapers) rather than hunching over Ouija boards, summoning the devil’s minions to help ensure their souls have the clean black gleam.

Sure, we write things that concern darkness, but what horror often gives, is hope. More often than not they are stories of triumph over adversity. Yes, we deal with the subjects that most people are afraid to think about. Yes, we take readers by the hand through nightmare worlds, but what we also do, is bring them out the other side. We help them face their fears; we allow readers, if only for a short time, to conquer their fears. Whether they do it by closing the book when it gets too much, or by reading it all in one sitting, they are standing up to what scares them, and not backing down.

The next time somebody tells you that they are a horror writer, remember that we slave just as hard over our words as the next Booker Prize nominee does. We have poured as much of ourselves into our work as any other author, and while it may never be a good idea to ask us what we are currently working on, never let the genre fool you. After all, it is nothing but a means by which bookstores can line their shelves. At the end of the day, genre means nothing.

I think it’s only fair that I end this with a quote from Stephen King.

“At parties, people usually approach the writer of horror fiction with a mixture of wonder and trepidation. … Most of us, you see, look and seem (and ARE) perfectly ordinary. We don’t drown houseguests in the bathtub, torture the children, or sacrifice the cat at midnight inside of a pentagram. There are no locked closets or screams from the cellar. Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, looks like a moderately successful used car salesman. Ray Bradbury bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Charles M. Shulz, creator of Peanuts.”

Me

Alex Laybourne

Bio:

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that Alex Laybourne became a horror writer.

From an early age he attended schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away from his home, and so most of his free time was spent alone.

He claims to have been a writer as long as he can remember. With a wild and vivid imagination he finds it all too easy to just drift away into his own mind and explore the worlds he creates. It is a place where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

He is married and has four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. His biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

Links:

Blood of the Tainted (artwork by Richard van Ekeren)

Diaries of the Damned

Website

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

Website Wonders

28 Oct

Announcements: 

If you’ve always wanted to know just a little bit more about Take Me Tomorrow, Confessions of a Book Blogger reviewed the novel with slight spoilers (but nothing major!) And you can read why she said, “this book is practically perfection.” by clicking here to read her full review. I hope you check out Take Me Tomorrow!

Also, another review of Take Me Tomorrow is available on ATROX. Here is a sneak peek, “This book has lifted my spirits about dystopian books because this was fresh and original. If your a dystopian lover or you just love adventure, this book is definitely for you.”

Website Wonders:

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 October’s Website Wonders categorized as so: Halloween-Themed, Reading, Writing, and Just For Fun. Between each category is a photo. If you enjoy these websites, be sure to like my Facebook page because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Halloween Themed:

50 Scariest Books of All Time: You might have heard of Stephen King. He’s on this list.

Creepiest Literary Haunts Around the U.S.: Looking to travel?

18 Literary Pumpkins For a Bookish Halloween: Anyone carve one of these delightful pumpkins this year?

10632874_619494601504909_7679906442351708623_n Reading:

The Mortal Instruments to Return as T.V. Series: I know. I know this is T.V., but it’s one of my favorite YA series, so I am beyond ecstatic that they didn’t drop it completely. Holding out hope that it will be amazing.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs. Orwell: I am a huge Orwell fan, so this cracked me up.

Poetry Day: 10 British Actors Read 10 British Poems: I know the poets out there will love this.

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Writing:

Writing: How-Tos and Resources: The amount of information on this website is unreal.

There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary: Nefelibata – cloud walker: one who lives in the clouds of their own imagination or dreams, or one who does not obey the conventions of society, literature, or art.

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Just For Fun:

Shiritori Game: a word game for all

How to be a nerd and why that is awesome: The defining characteristic that ties us all together is that we love things.

The 18 Most Suppressed Inventions Ever: I talked about how the drug in Take Me Tomorrow is not the only time society has created something to see into the future. Read this article and check out the Chronovisor

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Enjoy website hunting!

~SAT

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