Tag Archives: Susannah Ailene Martin

When Writing Makes Reading Hard

23 Jan

When Writing Makes Reading Hard

by Susannah Ailene Martin

I’ve been writing seriously since I was 15. In other words, I’ve had 5 years of training in the craft of writing. That’s how writing works; the more you do it, the better you get at it. I’ve learned a lot about how story structure works and how to create interesting characters.

Now the good news about this is that my writing has become exponentially better. I mean, seriously, reading stuff I wrote when I was 15 makes my eyes bleed. The bad news is that’s it’s making reading less fun.

It’s a strange phenomenon that the more you understand how something works, the more the mystery behind that thing vanishes. Reading used to be something that I could sit down and do for hours without once thinking about how the book came to be. It used to be something that impacted me, but I didn’t know why.

Now I understand, and yeah, it kinda sucks.

Because I know so much more about writing, I see every trick and trope (well, maybe not every trick; I’m only human) that an author uses. No longer can I really enjoy reading a scene in a book without thinking, “Ah, that’s a neat little thing you did there.” I constantly, and subconsciously, analyze and look for ways to improve my own writing as I read along.

It’s also become much more easy for me to be able to tell when a book is objectively just bad. Have you ever watched a TV show with a younger kid and thought, “You know what, if I was ten years younger, I would have loved this”? That’s kind of what it’s like for me reading books that years ago might have entertained me, but now that I know a bit about writing, I can’t help but see every mistake the author made.

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I know that being able to analyze a book like this is a good thing for my writing. It shows that I’m getting it, that I’m learning. But I do miss just being able to mindlessly consume words on a page.

The worst part is that I don’t just write for my novels and short stories, but I have also been studying screenwriting for the past two years. That means that not only have books been (kinda-sorta) ruined for me, but also movies and television shows. *sobs*

If you think books are hideously formulaic, then you don’t want to study screenwriting. The formula for most movies is so similar that I can sit down and, without seeing the movie, tell you exactly what general thing is going to happen when and be absolutely correct.

For instance, did you know that there’s a scene in every movie about 20 minutes before the end and right before the climax where all seems lost and it looks like the heroes have failed? It’s in EVERY SINGLE BLOODY MOVIE. Seriously, just go watch any movie, and tell me I’m wrong.

And by the way, I’m sorry, because now you’ll be looking for it.

But that’s what I do now. I look for things that I know are going to be in everything. And it’s really annoying. I want to be able to just sit back and enjoy something without thinking, “Oh hey, there’s the inciting incident.”

So I’m sure you’re starting to think, “Sheesh, you make it sound like writing ruins all forms of entertainment. Why would I ever want to write?”

The last thing I want to do is to discourage someone from writing. But you should know that this is how it’s going to be. When you write, you are going to find it harder to be entertained by every mediocre book you read. BUT, that just means you have to find better books.

It’s rarer now, but there are still books that suck me in so completely that I forget to analyze. I still occasionally finish books and feel that old familiar sense of wonder. And my mind is richer for it.

Plus, you’ll never learn it all. If you feel like your reading is getting stale lately, go out and try a new genre. I read and write mostly in the sci-fi and fantasy genres, but my mom recently got me into reading this historical romance series. Because I don’t know the tropes for romance, it’s hard for me to predict where the story is going, which makes it more fun.

But whatever you do, don’t stop reading. The moment you do, your writing will suffer.


About Susannah

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Wattpad

SusannahSusannah Ailene Martin is an author from Norfolk, Va. She is currently a junior at Liberty University studying transmedia writing (which is just a fancy way of saying ‘various forms of screenwriting’). She blogs at Susannah Contra Mundum about her life, thoughts, and experiences. You can purchase her novelette, The Lifeguard: A Short Story, at Amazon for $0.99.


Thank you, Susannah, for writing such a great article! I know many writers who struggle with finding time to read and write, as well as feel that pure joy for both over and over again, so I’m sure many can relate. By sharing these struggles, we can help one another find those great reads and wonderful writing programs to keep us inspired and our work fresh.

Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep on being you.

Have a great week everyone!

~SAT

Q&A about “Take Me Tomorrow”

9 May

In case you missed my interview with Whispers in the Dark radio, here it the link. You can still listen to the entire show, and I even gave away some extra information about Take Me Tomorrow. The host also recorded four of my latest poems, and he is a wonderful reader, so I highly recommend his show.

Two fantastic blogs reviewed Minutes Before Sunset this week, so please take the time to check them out by clicking the links provided:

Confessions of a Book Geek said, “If you’re into your paranormal/fantasy stories but want something fresh and different from the vampire/werewolves/witches tales we all love (but are in desperate need for a break from), then I highly recommend Minutes Before Sunset and The Timely Death Trilogy.”

Books for Thought agreed when they said, “I was pretty much hooked as soon as I started it, which is a huge accomplishment.”

Check out everything these two readers had to say because their book blogs are highly entertaining.

The day has come! I am revealing more information about Take Me Tomorrow, and I am answering YOUR questions, comments, and more. Everyone is linked to, and I hope you enjoy the answers. But first –

Take Me Tomorrow is on Goodreads, so please add it to your bookshelf today by clicking this link or the photo below:

goodr

The Guesses:

I was going to share all of the guesses, but there were so many and many of them were very long! (Thank you so much!) That being said, the post was way too long with everyone’s awesome guesses (practical stories) so I am only going to link to their websites. As marketing continues, I’ll be sure to repeat my favorite guesses, but here are excerpts from my top three favorite guesses:

1. Auntie Doris: “…I reckon that he only has tickets for that very afternoon, so he goes to New York or Liverpool, but probably New York, with his brother, and they make a fortune, but he never forgets her, and so he sends for her and her father and pays their passage over, and when they get their they get married and a top physician cures the fathers back. And the brother marries an American girl, or a Scouse girl but probably an American girl. Am I right? Do I win?”

You weren’t right, but your guess was a story all on its own, and you did win! Feel free to email me at shannonathompson.com, and we can discuss a guest spot on my blog 😀

2. Things Mattter: A History Blog: “I’m guessing it’s a time travel love story in which this girl knows she’s going to fall in love with this guy but it hasn’t happened yet and she decides to change the future.”

I thought this guess was the closest – mainly because it deals with trying to change the future.

3. Inkwell & Paper: “The angel of death comes along and she begs for one more day, saying “Take me tomorrow.” She is given medicine that will last only 24 hours”

I really loved how she both took the title and the cover “Rx” into account. Plus, her plot sounds wicked.

But thanks goes out to everyone that participated: Legends of Windemere, Tuan Ho, Taking on A World of Words, sociallydecrepit, Timothy Bateson, Sun Mountain Reviews, Amber Skye Forbes, Jonas Lee’s Imaginarium, Ron Estrada, Susannah Ailene Martin, and Ray’s Works.

I also wanted to thank THE RAMBOVA FILES. For sharing the news.

The Discussion: Questions, Statements, and Answers

Below I’ve included all of the websites of those who have asked about Take Me Tomorrow. SAT refers to me, but you will see other initials without links. That is because they asked questions on my personal Facebook, and they do not wish to be linked to. Everything bolded are the main points. Enjoy!

First and foremost,

The Animation Commendation: “What is this about if I may ask?”

SAT: Take Me Tomorrow is a YA, dystopian novel surrounding the existence of a clairvoyant drug. I’ve included the synopsis from Goodreads below, but this is not the final synopsis:

Two years after the massacre, the State enforces stricter rules and harsher punishments on anyone rumored to support tomo – the clairvoyant drug that caused a regional uprising. 

But sixteen-year-old Sophia Gray has other problems. 

Between her father’s illegal forgery and her friend’s troubling history, the last thing Sophia needs is an unexpected encounter with a boy. 

He’s wild, determined, and one step ahead of her. But when his involvement with tomo threatens her friends and family, Sophia has to make a decision: fight for a future she cannot see or sacrifice her loved ones to the world of tomorrow.

Elizabeth Jamison’s PhD Journey: “Shannon, is this a new series? The cover is absolutely fantastic! And how did you finish another book so quickly? It seems like the others just came out. You are amazing.”

SAT: It is the first novel of a series. Originally it was five novels, but I cut it down to only 3. I’m currently hoping to make it two novels. I wrote Take Me Tomorrow when I was 19, so it’s been finished for a few years now. I wasn’t planning on releasing it until November, but after speaking with AEC, I decided it wasn’t doing any good sitting on my laptop, so I’m publishing it now. Also, the story begins in August, so I thought it would be neat for readers to be able to read it during the season that it takes place in.

A Midget with a Huge Imagination: “I hope you’d give me the opportunity to read your work, Shannon! The cover looks amazing and surely this will be another page-turning novel from you!”

SAT: Definitely! I am taking interviewers and reviewers now, so please feel free to message me at shannonathompson.com.

Desirable Purity: “I really want to know this. What is the thought behind this title: Take Me Tomorrow?”

SAT: Explaining in complete detail would ruin one the biggest “shockers” of the novel, but I will try without spoiling it. The clairvoyant drug is called “tomo” – short for “tomorrow” – At least, that’s what the protagonist thinks. There are two scenes in particular to look out for in order to understand the title completely. The ending of chapter fifteen and the ending of chapter nineteen.

LW: “Thought it was you on the cover at first. Lol”

SAT: That is not me on the cover, but I’m glad someone said it, because I’ve actually had a few people say it (including my publisher) and I wanted a chance to clarify that the model is not me – although, the protagonist, Sophia Gray, does have brown hair.

JF: “Where was this pic [the cover] taken? Kansas City area?”

SAT: I can’t say where this picture was taken exactly, but JF is onto something. Take Me Tomorrow is dystopian, but the setting is the Topeka Region, one of seven regions in the State. That being said, “Topeka” isn’t in Kansas. The book technically takes place in the Kansas City, Missouri area. So look out for that explanation in the novel because it is stated.

ABB: “Glad you kept the Rx! Looks Awesome!”

SAT: What? Someone already knew what Take Me Tomorrow was about AND they knew about the Rx? That’s right. A few years ago, I had this novel posted on Wattpad. I gained a couple hundreds fans (Oh, how I wish I could reconnect with them!) and I received some fan art. (It was my first time receiving fan art ever!) I’ve actually shared this fan art before on my post – Writing Tips: Different Perspectives – but it’s been a while since then, so here’s the photo: (Notice a slight change in the title from “Take Me To Tomorrow” to “Take Me Tomorrow.”) You also might have more curiosity after seeing this drawing.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

One of the coolest part of writing is when one of your fans creates something for you. This is fan art from a novel of mine on my previous Wattpad account. Sophia and Noah, my male and female protagonists.

I hope this answered your questions and sparked even more curiosity! As the author, I am definitely looking forward to this release. It’ll be my first novel released that is told from one perspective, and I cannot wait to share more as the release gets closer. Feel free to ask more questions below, and I will answer them!

Don’t forget to add Take Me Tomorrow on Goodreads or to “like” the novel on Facebook.

~SAT

April Ketchup

29 Apr

These are my favorite posts to write. I love numbers, so I love analyzing my stats and sharing them with everyone. If you’re a blogger, I hope my stats help you know how my website grows – what works and what doesn’t. This month, I want to clarify that I’ve been rather busy with getting my next manuscript – “TMT” – ready for next month’s announcements, so I didn’t have as much time as I normally do to read other blogs. I am a HUGE advocate of reading other blogs. It’s a great way to meet fellow writers, and it is vital to creating a fun environment for readers. (I will get into why I believe this later.) As usual, I have adjusted my Ketchup post to new insights. 😀 Enjoy.

Here is how my April Ketchup is organized:

My big moments, top three blog posts, the one blog post I wish received more views, the rest of the blog posts, top referrer other than search engines, top searched term, and gains in followers, likes, and shares. I also included every website who has helped me this month. I’ve added two new categories though: my guest blogger has their own spot, and I’ve linked to my YouTube videos since I just began a channel this month.

Big Moments:

lalunaMy poem – Regretful Memories – was published in LALUNA Magazine. When one of my favorite photographers asked for poets to submit to her new magazine, I never thought she would pick one of my pieces to be in the first edition. I did a reading of it on YouTube as well, but this was a big moment because I haven’t had any poetry published since 2012, and it feels really nice to be able to participate in the poetry again, especially during National Poetry Writing Month.

ShannonAThompson.com hit 15,000 followers. Ah! So exciting! I cannot believe how quickly this website is growing and how many wonderful people I’ve been able to meet because of it. My next two big moments include two of those great people I have been able to meet because of this blog:

David Congalton, writer of Authors Anonymous, contacted me after he read my review of his film. I already finished interviewing him, so you can expect to see his interview on here in May. In the meantime check out his film. It’s perfect for writers.

And Gordon Tredgold – author, speaker, and leader – quoted me on his website:

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Top Three Blog Posts:

1. Writing With Barbie: I never thought my confession would be so popular, but I am glad you like my Barbie dolls as much as you like me. Maybe I should keep my dolls out of storage and start playing with them again…

2. Why Writers Should Watch “Authors Anonymous” This is the post where I wrote about the movie, Authors Anonymous, that David Congalton and I will be speaking about this week. I definitely recommend seeing this movie, especially if you’re a writer.

3. Editing Tips: I shared some unconventional ways to go about editing, including how you can use a shoebox.

The Post I Wish Got More Views:

Behind the Scenes of The Timely Death Trilogy: I meant to share my 30-Day Countdown from March last month, but I finally found a slot this month. I included new games and excerpts, too. Plus, I love talking about my books with readers, and I love sending out fun games about it even more. (This post even includes new hints for TMT!)

Other Blog Posts, Organized by Topic:

My Poem, Regretful Memoriesmyhome

YouTube:

Writing:

Interview:

Website Wonders:

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

My top referrer other than search engines was my Facebook page.

  • Website Wonders: I was late in February and March, so I posted their website wonders at the beginning of this month.

Guest Post:

What if I Can’t Write What I Know: Written by Susannah Ailene Martin, this post explains how writers can get over the hurdle of researching for a novel. My stats spiked when I shared her post, which is a perfect example of why we should connect with one another through blogs and other kinds of social media.

YouTube Videos from Coffee & Cats:

My goal when I started was to only post one video this month to test it out. Plus, I had to learn how to create the channel and videos. I was really proud of myself when I beat my goal by uploading two videos.

Reading of “Regretful Memories” and Author Confessions

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 would like to review my novels or interview me, please send me an email at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! And I will share your post on all of my websites. I will be looking for new reviewers for TMT soon! I can’t wait!

Reviewers: Making My MarkEndless ReadingParis CarterCoffee, Books, and ArtThe ExaminerReturn Novel.

Interviewers: Read to Write Stories, The Lurking Voice, Doodles, doodles everywhere.

Features: How to Write a Love Story

I used this photo because it reminds me of “TMT” - my next novel that will soon be announced.  (Photo from gdefon.ru)

I used this photo because it reminds me of “TMT” – my next novel that will soon be announced.
(Photo from gdefon.ru)

Guest post: What if I Can’t Write What I Know? by Susannah Ailene Martin

21 Apr

Shannon, here, with two announcements and an introduction before the lovely Susannah Ailene Martin takes over.

Return Novel reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, stating, “Who will stay up after dark? Readers who value solid character development and realistic motivations in their supernatural romance series.” Read the full thing here or check out the novel by clicking here.

If you want to see what readers think of the sequel, you’re in luck. Endless Reading reviewed Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2 of the The Timely Death Trilogy this week. She stated, “Thompson did an awesome job of creating scenes that left the reader breathless and heart pounding as though they were at the forefront and head of battle.” Click here to read the entire review or click here to go to Amazon.

Susannah Ailene Martin is writing for ShannonAThompson.com today, and her post is below, but here is an excerpt from her “About Me” page, so you can get to know this writer a little bit first: “I am mostly interested in creating fiction novels in the long run, but you will more than likely not see any fiction in this blog. My writing covers a wide range of genres, but usually I stick to Sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a big fan of “fractured fairy tales” and Greek Mythology.”

Now, for Susannah Ailene Martin. Check out her website by clicking here

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What if I Can’t Write What I Know? by Susannah Ailene Martin

One of the most often repeated pieces of advice for writers is, “Write what you know.” Okay, that’s great… if I’m writing about a white, middle class, homeschooled girl who’s never had a boyfriend. The problem with writing what you know is that, unless you’re writing your own autobiography, it’s not always possible. In fact, most of the time, it’s not possible. The path of the writer, especially the fiction writer, is to write what you don’t know.

So how do you do that? Here are four tips to help you write what you don’t know.

1. Read.

What if you’ve never been to the African Savannah, but you want to write a book on the life of meerkats? No problem. The first thing you’re going to have to do is hit the books. Read a book that tells you all about meerkats, and then read five more. This tip also pertains to writing in different genres. If you’ve never read a fantasy book, you’re going to have a hard time writing one. For the writer, reading is not only fun; it can be helpful for you as well. Through reading, you can immerse yourself in a whole different world. That way, you can learn to write about something that you have never experienced.

By the way, this tip isn’t exclusive to books. Looking on the internet for articles on subjects for your writing is a good idea too.

2. Watch.

Some people are more visual than others. If you’re one of those people, you have to see it before you can write it. We can’t go back in time and watch a battle during World War II (and most of us wouldn’t want to), but we can watch a movie or documentary that shows what happened during one of those battles. When I was writing my first book, I needed to write a kissing scene between two characters and I don’t have much experience (I’m homeschooled. Shut up). To remedy this, I went to YouTube and searched for kissing scenes.

This advice doesn’t just apply to watching movies and videos. One of the greatest tools in the writer’s tool box is people watching. Yes, it can get a little uncomfortable, and doing this might cause people to stare at you, but sometimes there’s no better option than going to the mall and watching people from the food court. Just don’t follow anyone around. That’s creepy.

3. Do.

Obviously, there are things you just can’t do, but in some cases, when you need to write a certain scene, going out and doing the thing in the scene can help you get a feel for what it’s like. If you’re writing a scene where your characters are in the woods, go camping. If your characters are trying to hail a cab in New York City, go do it. Admittedly, this tip can be a bit cost prohibitive.

You don’t necessarily need to do exactly the thing you’re writing about. Going back to my previous example of a battle in World War II, if you go out and play paint ball or laser tag, you can start to understand what it might feel like to be fighting in close quarters.

4. Ask

If you’ve never been skydiving, but you’ve have a friend who has, ask them about it. Don’t be afraid to dig in deep. Remember that whenever you ask someone about their experience, you want to try and make sure that the experience is recent. After a while, people tend to forget important little details, and that could get you in trouble with readers who are experienced in what you’re writing about.

Those are my four tips for writing what you don’t know. Whenever you’re using these tips, remember to keep a notebook and writing utensil handy. Doing these things won’t be very helpful if you forget what you’ve learned.

What about you? Do you have any tips of your own for writing what you don’t know?

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