Tag Archives: The Hunger Games

Why Some Books Resonate and Others Don’t

31 Mar

I’m here to tell you why some books resonate and others don’t. Why? Because so many publishers/agents/editors are out there searching for the next big thing, and many authors are trying to become that. As authors, sometimes we stare at three or four different projects and wonder which one we should work on next (because we want to know which one would be more successful), and if we somehow knew how to predict that, we could cut back on a lot of work stress (and readers could get more books they love).

So how do you know which books will resonate?

Short answer: You don’t.

But the long answer?

There are numerous “reasons” a book will resonate with millions (or even hundreds) of people, but I put the word “reasons” in quotes for a reason. Most of these reasons are theories. Even if we do “know,” it is not necessarily a fact. Confusing? Stay with me. We’re going to talk about it.

Let’s start with the obvious place. The dreaded M word: Marketing.

It’s easy to see popular authors and their huge marketing budgets and think, “No wonder they are so successful! Who wouldn’t be with a billboard on 5th Ave?” But let’s chill out for a minute. Most authors started somewhere small. Most authors, even the current NYT bestsellers, did not get a huge budget on their debut. Their publishers decided to use a huge budget after the sold well the first time. Granted, marketing definitely has an effect, but it’s not the end all be all. Thousands of books get huge marketing deals a year but still don’t become the franchises everyone on the team was hoping for. Some books get very little marketing budgets, but then ARCs go out in the world and readers start clamoring for them and publishers have to rush to get a bigger budget behind it. (A great example of this is Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. She talked about it on the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, so go check it out if you want to hear that story. It’s very informative.) Basically, having backing will definitely help get your books in front of readers, but that doesn’t guarantee those readers will fall for the hype.

So now let’s look at books that did succeed.

Twilight! The Hunger Games! The Harry Potter series! Fifty Shades of Grey! Do you know what these books had in common? Lots of rejections. Lots of closed doors. Lots of what ifs. So clearly, “predicting” the books that will succeed is not obvious, not even for the professionals.

Some of the biggest books of our recent times were not expected to be HUGE hits. But there are some reasons that they succeeded that we can discuss.

So Twilight didn’t just have great timing; Hollywood had great timing too. It was arguably the first time Hollywood acknowledged the potential of a female-focused film fan base and they ran with it. Harry Potter, on the other hand, was a book that resonated with everyone between the ages of 8 and 50+, so it was another perfect option for the books-to-film boom. Not to mention all the new tech, with graphics making chasing sci-fi and fantasy films better than before. Granted, these books were already super popular before they were films, so let’s talk about The Hunger Games, because I think that one has an interesting study behind it. 

Looking back on The Hunger Games boom, many theorists believe it took off because it was published at the same time that the teens reading were the same people who were in middle school when 9/11 happened. And I think that study might be spot-on. (I say this as someone who fits into this exact category.)

Teens at that age in that time were searching for books that explained war and government and tragedy, and The Hunger Games gave not only a safe place to explore those themes but a modern place. What do I mean by “modern”? We all grew up on The Giver and Logan’s Run and all the other dystopian classics, but The Hunger Games was the brand-new dystopian my generation was itching for.

But again, that’s just a theory.

Maybe it was just a fantastic book, but there were millions of fantastic books that came out that year that didn’t take off the same way, so I tend to agree with some theories presented.

Timing is everything, and yet timing is rarely predictable.

Lots of editors and agents and publishers and authors want to have great timing (or think they know what the next trend will be), and maybe they’re right, but no one has ever predicted the HUGE breakthrough sellers with extreme accuracy.

To be honest, sometimes I don’t know if there is a reason to it. Everyone says retrospect is 20/20, but maybe we only say that because we can look back and justify the path that it took, rather than truly understand how that path happened in the first place.

At the end of the day, I look at book sales the way I look at my blog posts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve researched and spent hours on one blog post that goes nowhere, while in comparison a blog post I slapped together last minute pulled in hundreds more viewers than I ever expected. I can try to track it as much as I like. My website host will show me where my posts are shared (Pinterest, FB, etc.) and what was Googled to get others here, but even then, most of the stats are nonsensical at the end of the day.

Sometimes things just resonate, and sometimes they don’t, so what I do?

I stopped worrying about what resonates with others and started focusing on what resonates with me.  

As the author, if I’m not enjoying what I’m writing, I know my readers won’t. The first step with any book is to write what you care about first. Finish that. And then worry about editing and getting a publishing deal.

Maybe your next piece of work will resonate with the world. Maybe it won’t. But at least you know that it resonated with you. And if it resonates with you, trust me, it will resonate with someone else out there. So if I would leave you with anything, it’s this:

Write what you want to write, always.

~SAT

P.S. I’m in YASH Spring 2018 this year! If you don’t know what that is, it’s the Young Adult Scavenger Hunt, and my post goes up April 3. This also means my usual blog schedule is getting moved around a bit. I hope you’ll stop by on April 3, because there’s tons of prizes to be won. My regular blog posts will return April 14! 

First or Third Person? Present or Past Tense? How Do You Decide?

5 Jun

So you’re writing a book…but your book requires some decisions. Your narrative needs structure. And there are a million options to choose from. So how do you decide a perspective and a tense? What is the best combination for your book?

Let me start out by saying that making the choice to write in first/third person or past/present tense is different for every writer (and often every book). This decision might also differ from what an author prefers to read. For that reason, I wanted to look at this discussion from two different perspectives—as a reader and as a writer—and how I decide, so that you might be able to see how you can make that decision for yourself. Of course, there are a lot more options and specifications than I’m going to get into today. Consider this the basics.

First or Third Person

As a reader…

I love both first and third person. I honestly can’t say if I favor one over the other. As long as the novel is written well, I love the story, though I probably prefer third person for multiPOV stories, only because nailing numerous (and immediately recognizable) voices in first person is basically impossible. (Which I’ll explain below.)

As a writer….

I tend to write in first person. In fact, all of my currently published novels are in first person, though they are also in multiPOV first person…which I just called “basically impossible” above. (Because it is!) Both of my published series are written this way, but none of my recent, unpublished projects are, because UGH. First-person, multiPOV is hard! Nailing a unique voice for each character while staying in the moment is a constant battle. Right now, I’m writing my first third-person book, and I’ll be honest, I think I’m in love. Why? I have an unpopular opinion about first vs. third person. Strangely, I think third person is more intimate than first. Most would argue me, and I totally get it. The average first-person book truly gets into someone’s mind and feelings. But I feel so NARCISTIC in first person (with all the I, me, we, etc.) Because of that, I tend to avoid discussing feelings on top of a first-person point of view. But in third person. Boy, in third person, I feel like I can let those emotions fly. 

Present or Past Tense

As a reader…

I HATE present tense. LOATHE it even. I know. I know. That’s been the favored tense in YA since The Hunger Games. But it drives me nuts. While many have described past tense as sounding like someone telling a story (as if it had already happened), I actually find present tense to feel this way. “I jump over the fire and land on my feet!” sounds like something your uncle shouts around a campfire while telling his college-glory stories. I just don’t like the way it sounds. Present tense makes me feel like I’m being talked at rather than coaxed along. Past tense, however, helps me disappear into the story. That being said, some of my favorite books are in present tense. Don’t get me wrong. I’d never put a book down solely because of present tense, but it will make it a little bit harder for me to enjoy at first.

As a writer….

I write in past tense. In fact, I’ve never written in present, nor do I have the desire to. (But never say never, right?)

So how do I decide what to write in?

Honestly, I don’t.

When I set out to write a book, the POV and tense happen pretty naturally. Granted, there are some exceptions. For instance, I wanted to have Noah and Sophia tell my now-unpublished book, Take Me Tomorrow, but Noah—well, to be frank—is on drugs, and he doesn’t make a lot of sense (or he makes too much sense). So, he was cut out. It turned out to be Sophia’s story anyway. And though I tend to write in first person, my current project is in third person. (It’s actually my first serious project in third person.) Why is this one in third person? I have no clue! It just sort of happened that way. But I’m glad it did. The tone suits it perfectly.

Keep in mind…

First/third person and past/present tense are not the only options out there, and, quite frankly, these are just shells of your options. In third person, for instance, you have to choose between limited third or omniscient third (all-knowing). Then again, who says you have to decide? Some books combine different types of structures to write a book. RoseBlood by Anita Howard had third-person past for her male protagonist, while her female protagonist was written in present first. That way, you could immediately understand where you were and who we were reading about without stumbling. Your book’s options are unlimited.

So how should you decide?

Listen to your gut. Even if you write an entire series in first person and then realize it needs to be in third, I say go for it! Everyone’s writing journey is different, and though there are always trends to consider, nailing your voice is more important than trying to hit constantly-moving goalposts. There are pros and cons and limitations in both perspectives, but I tend to choose perspective/tense based on what the characters tell me to do. It happens overtime. I might not even know until I’m knee-deep in outlines. It might change, too. And that’s okay! Change happens at every process. Write how the book demands to be written. Try first, attempt third, experiment with both, and you’ll eventually find that natural point where you can’t turn back, because the words are endless. But that’s just my perspective. 😉

~SAT

#WW When The Villain Isn’t A Person

13 Apr

I LOVE villains, and I have ever since I was child. I mean, have you watched a Disney movie? The villains are always shiny and scary and have the best sing-along songs. The villains are cool, and it’s even better when you fall in love with villains in novels, too. That being said, we have many aspects of villains we need to work on—like Writing Complex Female Villains—and villains who aren’t people.

What are some options?

Protagonist vs. Antagonist: The most common type of villain is the evil antagonist, the foreboding man with a cape and an evil master plan to take over the world. Okay. So storylines vary, but you get my point. Most villains are just that: Villains. One person vs. another person. They tend to have opposite ideals, and now they must fight one another to see who gets to win it all in the end. Think: Batman and Joker. 

Protagonist vs. Nature: Think of Twister, Contagion, or Jaws. This type of villain can be a storm, a disease, or an animal. Anything and everything that makes up nature can be a villain. You can get personal—with a single storm, like one approaching hurricane—or you can get HUGE—with extreme climate change all over the world. The best part about exploring Protagonist vs. Nature is putting your protagonist back on the food chain, so to speak. These types of stories, more than likely, take away any “power” humans believe they have, and that can feel pretty twisted at times. In fact, it almost makes it less about being a hero and more about surviving.

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In my life story, I am definitely fighting myself all the time. Writing is tough!

Protagonist vs. Self: Okay. So this is technically a “person” but think about as an ASPECT of that person. This could be an insecurity that dictates their life or a fear that prevents them from reaching a goal. This happens a lot in books centered on mental health. Now, please don’t think I’m calling mental health villainess. I’m not. But I am saying that it can be the force the hero is fighting…whether they are fighting against it, how to manage it, or how to accept it is the journey. The upcoming book, The Weight of Zero, is a great example of this. This is also common in athletics, especially if the story focuses on winning or reaching a goal rather than beating one particular opponent. This could also be a “finding yourself” story or even a coming-of-age tale.

Man vs. Society: Think of The Giver or Divergent or The Hunger Games. These types of books, more or less, revolve around society’s dysfunctions (or disagreements) as a whole. While there might be a “face” often seen in the books, the face is rare and fleeting, and the true evil resides in the beliefs of ALL rather than in one or two people.

The best part? More often than not, villains are a combination of these concepts. For instance, an extreme change in climate (Protagonist vs. Nature) could create a disease that drives your protagonist crazy (Protagonist vs. Himself), and now that character must prove to society that they have to change if they’ll have any hope at all of surviving (Protagonist vs. Society). No matter what though, it’s important to remember that a villain is the hero in their story. This goes for antagonists, nature, self, society, etc. Example from Protagonist vs. Nature? That man-eating creature in the woods is eating people because it’s protecting its young, not because it just loves eating people and wrecking lives. It’s really about perspective. Bonus points goes to likeable villains or villains we can sympathize with.

In my upcoming release, Bad Bloods would fall under this Protagonist vs. Society.

Bad Bloods in 35 words or less: 17-year-old Serena is the only bad blood to escape execution. Now symbolized for an election, she must prove her people are human despite hindering abilities before everyone is killed and a city is destroyed.

The protagonist is fighting to prove her people are human since society doesn’t see them that way. Rather than fight or try to convince each citizen one by one, they must fight the fundamental makeup of their city to overcome unwelcome hatred. There is a “face” behind the political group, but he only shows up twice and has very little importance to the storyline. (Protagonist vs. Society). However, the protagonist has hindering abilities and unresolved issues, and it causes her a lot of physical and mental pain. (Protagonist vs. Self) On top of that, she lives on the street in the middle of winter. She is very much fighting the Protagonist vs. Nature battle every single day. You don’t have to choose one villain, but be aware of your ultimate villain and the little ones in between.

Combine, twist, and have fun.

Not all villains need to be people. Not all villains wear capes.

~SAT

Clean Teen Publishing is hosting the CTP Awesome April Reads Release Party on April 15 via Facebook at 6 PM. You can meet authors, win prizes, and check out new books by clicking the link above.

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If you love free stuff, Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. Recommended to YA paranormal romance fans who want new creatures never seen or heard of before.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 15 starts this Thursday via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT at 7 PM CDT. What is #AuthorinaCofffeeShop? Just how it sounds! I sit in a coffee shop, people watch, tweet out my writer thoughts, and talk to you! I hope to see you there.

#SATurdate: Fortitude, Splintered, The Beat Generation, & Broken Elbows

23 Jan

Sometimes I feel like I get everything done with no issues. Other times I feel like I get nothing done working my butt off. Such is life. I’ll let you choose which one. 😉

What I’m Writing:

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with Take Me Yesterday, but then, the funniest thing happened. I wrote an entire chapter on the computer, nearly threw my computer at the wall, and then stormed away with my notebook. I figured I’d try writing in down via hand instead of typing it, and voila! It worked beautifully. So that’s my writing tip for all you writers out there! If you feel like you’re having writer’s block, try to switch up your medium. It might be the extra umph you need.

What I’m Publishing:

The final edits went into the formatter! Woot! You all have no idea how exciting that moment is. The moment when editing is finally complete. It’s a breath of fresh air. I’m freeeeeeeeee. (Also, big kudos goes out to the editing team for dealing with my nitpicky, writer’s brain. They are amazing people.) In the meantime, I’m actually working on perfecting my categories and keywords for listings as well. Pretty neat (but also tedious work).

Here is the #1lineWed winning preview. This week’s theme was dark.

He was no longer concerned with me. He was somewhere else entirely, somewhere dark, somehow stuck.

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What I’m Reading:

 readsI started two books, Splintered by A.G. Howard and Wait Till I’m Dead by Allen Ginsberg. I’m loving Splintered so far, and I’m beyond blown away by Allen Ginsberg uncollected collected poems. I studied Ginsberg in college, along with the entire Beat Generation, and I mainly fell in love with Ginsberg and Kerouac, but I had to sell back all my college books when I graduated. I was super bummed out. Still am. This is the beginning of that collection starting again, and it’s particularly monumental because the professor who brought me my love for these writers passed away last year. He would’ve loved to read the unpublished poems they published for the first time.

I finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, and boy, let me start off by saying I was totally wrong about this book. Despite having so many people telling me to read it, I didn’t pick it up because it sounded like another Hunger Games. Again. I was wrong. Although the first 100 pages seemed to go in that direction, Sarah J. Maas surprised me at every turn and entertained me to the end. I was SO glad the majority of the novel wasn’t about the competition, but rather magic and mystery and murders and demon worlds. It was a fantastic read, with a capable, sarcastic female assassin as the protagonist. Highly recommended to YA fantasy lovers! You can read my full 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Myths and Legends podcast. I finished a couple of episodes I’ve been meaning to listen to for a long time. If you want new and old legends, check this podcast out. It’s sure to inspire (or at least educate) you.

What I’m Watching:

I binge-watched Fortitude, which is a psychological thriller that takes place in a town on the north end of the Artic. I freakin’ loved it, but it’s so bizarre. You can never guess what is happening or why, and the imagery is freaky even when nothing is happening.

Is that Dumbledore and Caesar from The Hunger Games? Yes. Yes, it is.

Is that Dumbledore and Caesar from The Hunger Games? Yes. Yes, it is.

Twinsters is The Parent Trap meets real life. Two girls adopted for South Korea realize they are twins separated at birth. The documentary is heart-warming and amazing (and on Netflix right now).

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

12541144_969245789789269_998182083334672155_nCookies. Again. I can’t help myself.

What I’m Wearing:

A big ol’ bruise on my elbow. Read the next sections below to find out why.

What I’m Wanting:

Notebook paper! I’m completely out, and it’s a tragedy.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I owned a bunch of horses, but one of the horses gave me a disease that started eating away at my shoulder. Then, it spread, so I had to get most of my toes on my left foot amputated, and the doctors also took an eye. Strangely enough, no one seemed to notice that my eye was missing, but everyone was SUPER distraught that my toes had been amputated, even though my feet were in shoes and you couldn’t tell. That being said, any time someone picked on me for not having toes, I beat them up.

Don’t ask.

I have no idea why I dreamt this.

What Else Is Going On:

I slipped and basically fractured my elbow. (Legitimately, almost went to the ER over it.) But the funny part is WHY I slipped…There was a beetle. And it scared me. This is why I never leave the house. I can’t handle being in the house, let alone the real world. I’m just too clumsy. I’m a hazard.

~SAT

Author in a Coffee Shop, Episode 3 happened last night! What is Author in a Coffee Shop? Well, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts (and talk to you)! If you missed out, don’t worry. Join me next Friday at 7 PM (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT.

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM! I’ll be one of several featured authors at a Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. CTP author Tamara Grantham will be there, as well as NY Times Bestselling and USA Today Bestselling author Candice Gilmer. (I’ll know the other three authors soon!) I’d love to see you! If you haven’t started The Timely Death Trilogy, don’t worry. Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, is free!

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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You can even read The Timely Death Trilogy on your new Kindle Fire! 

Clean Teen Publishing is giving one away. Enter here.

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#WW 2016 YA Reading Predictions

23 Dec

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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Don’t Understand #MorallyComplicatedYA? Here’s Some Info.

25 Nov

Whoa! Shannon is posting outside her regularly scheduled posts. What?

Yes. I am. Because this is a big deal.

At first I was only going to share fellow YA female writers who have written morally complex novels that often included violence, but I understand more want actual info…which I will provide links to below. But, before that, here was my original post:

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Many of you probably saw me lose my lid last night and all day today. I normally followed up my rants with #MorallyComplicatedYA. If you didn’t get involved, you still can. Basically, please share YA books with female protagonists who are morally complicated (so basically every character in existence), but please share books written by females. I don’t want to bring more attention to the author who basically dissed the entire YA industry, especially females in general, but it seems that it’s the only way to get people to fight back. Here are some articles for more information. Some discuss the actual events, others are reaction pieces, others explain the importance of this. Get involved. Bring attention to the right books.

First, the article that started it all:

YA Debut Gets Six-Figure Deal, Sold to 16 Territories

Now Victoria Avevard discussing why this is so upsetting:

What Are Your Thoughts on Scott Bergstrom?

Now some repercussions and harsh truths about the publishing industry:

If you enjoy a good book and you’re a woman, critics think you’re wrong.

Another sum-up to get you motivated again:

YA Author Criticizes Genre for Lack of Morally Complicated Books 

Why we should be positive instead of negative:

In Which We Are Thankful For The Legacy of Others.

And books we SHOULD be reading and sharing:

17 Books That Prove YA is Morally Complicated

Share your favorite female authors. Share your favorite morally complicated books. Share your favorite YA series. Discuss it. Inform others. Bring attention to books that deserve it.  

Here are some of my FAVORITE #MorallyComplicatedYA novels written by females.

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The Conjurer’s Riddle by Andrea Cremer: The second book in The Inventor’s Secret series expands the world to the rebellion, showing that everything and everyone Charolette has fought for might not be good after all. This includes her family, her friends, and the losses in between…and she might have to fight everything she knows without understanding why.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: This terrifying tale revolves around a bloody war. Racism, prostitution, and cannibalism are discussed numerous times, and not everything is morally black and white.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski: The second book in The Winner’s Trilogy, Kestrel also finds herself making personal sacrifices surrounding her own happiness and family in order to keep a country together that might not be well-intended.

The White Rose by Amy Ewing: My current read, also the second book in The Lone City. Violet must disrupt a rebellion she knows nothing about in order to follow her gut and save friends.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: The second book in The Infernal Devices follows Tess as she is pulled between family, loss, new friends, and a lack of identity in a violent world.

~SAT

10 Types of People You Will See at Movie Adaptations

23 Aug

Announcements:

We hit 200 ratings on Goodreads! And today, I would like to thank two readers who posted reviews on their blogs.

Another Night of Reading reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, stating, “I recommend this book to anyone who likes dystopian novels that depart from what is now the Hunger Games/Divergent model. The heroine, Sophia, is a very ordinary, brave and strong girl who lives in a world that may be horrible to live in, but proves a very interesting setting for a story. I can only hope there will be a sequel.” But you can read her entire review by clicking here.

If you’re interested in reading the latest review of Minutes Before Sunset, Mel’s Shelves posted this, “This book held my attention from the beginning!” She gets into further detail, and you can read what she had to say about the paranormal romance by clicking here.

Thank you for continuing to read and share my novels. I always love to read your thoughts and feelings, so thank you for taking the time to post them.

10 Types of People You Will See at Movie Adaptations:

 Last night, I drove like a madwoman to the theatre to see the movie adaptation of If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. One of my favorite novels has officially become one of my favorite movie adaptations. (Thank you, book gods.) But it got me to thinking about movie adaptations, so I wanted to have a little fun by creating a list of people who attend movie adaptations.

1. The Die-hard Fan

They were born just to read this book, and their life is hitting a critical pinnacle of happiness at the theatre tonight. If the movie is horrible, their reading soul might be crushed forever…until they find their next favorite novel. Watch out. They will either cry at the horrible adaptation or cry at the beauty of the adaptation.

Favorite Line: I’ve read it four times…I mean, five, if you count the special addition version that included the film notes and the sequel preview in the back. You’ve read the sequel, right?

2. The Oblivious One

They did not know this movie was based on a book until the opening credits, and they ask questions throughout, such as but not limited to, “This was based on a movie? What is happening? I don’t get it. Who’s that? What is this even about?” Do not be mad at them. They might join the fandom soon.

Favorite Line: Where am I?

3. The Whisperer

This is usually two people – one is a die-hard and the other is an oblivious one. The diehard is whispering answers to the oblivious one.

Favorite Line: This part is really important so pay attention.

4. The Light Giver

Their cellphone is on. You can see it. But you almost can’t be mad because you know they aren’t texting. They are taking notes down for their blog or YouTube channel. You might even look them up later…even though you’re starting to get mad.

Favorite Line: Sorry!

5. The Whiner

They may not complain out loud, but they might as well be. Their sighs and grunts are nearly as distracting as their eyerolls, which – somehow – you have managed to see in the darkness of the theatre. They should’ve been an actor. Their dramatics are impressive. They might have even been a better protagonist. They kind of look like them, too.

Favorite Line: Seriously?

This is not the real trademark. That is my cat.

This is not the real trademark. That is my cat.

6. The Procrastinator

They read. They promise up and down that they do. They even swear that they were not going to see this movie before they read the book, but you convinced them to come early, so…they’re here. And they guess they’ll watch it first. But they’ll read the book the second they get home. This may or may not be the third time they’ve done this to you, but you don’t say anything because you still don’t know if they actually read, but you hope they do.

Favorite Line: I swear I was going to read the book first, but my TBR pile is too big.

7. The Boyfriend, Girlfriend, or Lost Friend

Much like the Oblivious One, this one has no clue what is going on, but they are generally happier than the Oblivious One because they are engrossed with whoever they are with. They probably won’t speak either. They don’t want to interrupt the movie for the fan they love.

Favorite Line: Can I get you anything?

8. The Character:

You’ve been staring at them for ten minutes now, and you have yet to figure out if they are purposely dressed like the characters in the book or if they actually dress that way in real life. You wait for them to talk to figure it out, but they never speak. Therefore, they do not have a favorite line.

Favorite Line: N/A

9. The Patient One:

This is a whole new form of the die-hard fan. They’ve been waiting outside the theatre since 7 a.m…the theatre doesn’t even open until 10 a.m. and it’s snowing. There is no question as to whether they are dressed up as the characters. They are. They did this for the final book release, too, and you recognize their outfit because you were also there. They even met the author once.

Favorite Line: It’s no big deal. I’ve only been waiting for twelve hours.

10. You:

Yes. You. You are among this crowd, and you are one of them. You might even be a mixture of all of them. This is possible – especially if you attend every movie adaptation you hear about. We know it’s a guilty pleasure, and that’s okay. Sit back, grab a Coke, and relax. This is going to be good…even if it isn’t. You always have your book to return home to anyway.

Favorite Line: Who? Me?

I hope you enjoyed this list! If you have a type you would like to add, please do so below! Or just talk about movie adaptations in general. Whatever, really. We can talk here. It’s not like we’re in a movie theatre or anything.

~SAT

Author Announcements

24 Jul

Author Announcements:

I am back! And my little vacation was pretty perfect. I ended up in Branson, Missouri. I’ve never been there before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I visited a wax museum, the Titanic museum, and a maze of mirrors. (They are seriously difficult to get through.) And I ate a funnel cake that was the size of my face, so the past few days were truly fantastic.

Thank you all for understanding my time away. One of these days, I’ll write about why stepping away is one of the best things a writer can do, but today I really wanted to thank all those bloggers who kept things going while I was away. Because so much happened, I’ve actually organized the events into categories. I hope you’ll check out these fantastic websites.

It is good to be home,

~SAT

P.S. I’ll share photos in between categories, so here’s a picture of me at the Titanic Museum.

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Guest Post:

Pau’s Castles invited me to write a guest post about how I managed my writing time during my time as a college student, so I wrote a post, and here’s my first piece of advice from that article:

“First Step: Figure Out Your Schedule

And I mean really figure it out. How many courses are you taking, and how many hours do they truly demand? What days are your busiest? Factor in midterms and finals. Don’t forget about family birthdays or how professors sometimes give out MORE work during extended holidays. Now, figure out when you’re most available. Is it at night? Is it before classes start? Is it only on the weekends? Once you have your responsibilities figured out as well as your free time defined, it will be easier to factor in your writing needs – which brings me to my next point.”

Click here to read my next point. 

Here’s a photo of Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe at the Hollywood Wax Museum

Wax museum

Wax museum

Interviews:

The Starving Bibliophile asked me many questions this week, but my favorite one involved POV in my works. I finally explain why Noah didn’t narrate Take Me Tomorrow, because – surprise – he, originally, did tell half of the story, but I also talk about the one career I wanted before I wanted to be a writer.

HeiBooks is a new website that features all kinds of writers, and they invited me on for Take Me Tomorrow. On my page, you can read about our interview, and you can a scroll around their website for many other novels, including many AEC Stellar books. Click here to check it out.

Here’s my giant funnel cake.

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Reviews:

Diary of an Eager Reader is the latest reviewer on this wonderful list that I’m truly thankful for. She read Take Me Tomorrow, beginning her review with “I have to consider myself to be pretty lucky since some of my favorite stories come to me through the help of authors who are looking to get buzz for their books.  9 times out of 10 they are great stories that i’m more than happy to talk about, and this one falls right there with those 9.  I really enjoyed this story.” And she tells you why in her review here.

Inkwell & Paper also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, titling their review “One Pill Makes a Difference.” The review begins with, “Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson is a book that unfolded like an action packed movie.” And her review reads like an action packed movie, too, which you can read by clicking here. But I truly appreciate that she pointed out her two favorite quotes. Click the linked numbers to read them on Goodreads:

1. “The emotional toll was enough to put me to sleep, but my anxiety was enough to keep me awake.”

2. “Behind his gaze was a memory that I wanted to snatch from him.”

Ray’s Works – the website of Matter of Resistance author Raymond Vogel, is my next reviewer, stating, “Expect vivid images, creative characters (with even more creative motivations), and a complex web of connectivity that’s hard to guess. Well done!” But you can read his full review here.

And finally, Things Matter, wrote “The tone and content are very similar to The Hunger Games, and I recommend Take Me Tomorrow if you’re looking for a read-alike to that or if you just like YA dystopia in general!” But you can read all of her thoughts by clicking here.

Here is a car outside the Uptown Cafe where they sing live while you eat!

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Feature:

I was also author of the week on Books to Curl Up with Blog!

Have fun checking out these great websites!

~SAT

Is that Novel REALLY Dystopian? How Market Trends Affect Incorrect Labeling

14 Mar

yDhftSBDesirable Purity asked me about my inner life, including what my secrets are. If that isn’t enough to intrigue you into reading my latest interview, I also shared a verse of poetry I have never released and shared a message to those  who see me as an inspiration. Desirable Purity also made the lovely banner you see on the left, so check out the full interview by clicking here.

With the Divergent movie releasing in a week, my television commercials are filled with dystopian images – a broken society, a dramatic tension, a fight against suppression. We’ve seen these images before, especially with the recent popularity of The Hunger Games sending this genre into the “What is Hot” category on numerous entertainment websites.

This happens all of the time.

The popularity of one novel is the catalyst for a growing infatuation with that genre. While dystopian has been around for ages, there has definitely been an increase in the recent market – but is the market ACTUALLY filled with dystopian novels or just novels claiming to be dystopian when they are, in fact, something else entirely?

I believe a mixture of both has happened, but I will get into why I think that is later. First, I want to take this moment to clarify that I am not against dystopian novels at all. In fact, my first novel, November Snow, is definitely dystopian, and that was published in 2007, one year before The Hunger Games. So I’ve always been a HUGE fan of dystopian. This piece is more along the lines of how to understand the industry and how we shift popularities by blending genres over time.

So let’s tackle this genre where I believe it gets confused:

There are many novels out there claiming to be dystopian when they probably aren’t. Not really anyway. Instead, they fall into sub-categories, like science-fiction and post-apocalyptic. And not every novel in those categories are dystopian.

What’s the difference? Let’s break it down: (Definitions provided by The Oxford Dictionary)

  • Post-apocalyptic: “Denoting or relating to the time following a nuclear war or other catastrophic event…Denoting or relating to the time following the biblical Apocalypse”
  • Dystopian: “An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.”

And just for clarification reasons:

  • Utopia: “An imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.”

Here is the main difference for me: Post-apocalyptic is more about an event’s effect on the world, while dystopian is more about a setting’s effect on the world (like government.) Aliens fighting humans to the death is post-apocalyptic. Aliens setting up a new, controlling government where fights take place is dystopian. Both are science-fiction.

So, why all the confusion?

Actually, I don’t believe there’s confusion at all. Instead, this is generally a marketing strategy, and a successful one at that. When novels are labeled by category, there are many options to consider, but the market often chooses to take advantage of that blurry line in order to gain more readers by convincing them that it is just like the last book they loved. And you know what? Readers might actually love it. (So, yes, I’m not saying this is always a bad thing. I’m just pointing out why I think this happens.)

Personally, I LOVED this article: Dystopian Fiction: What is it Really? 

It explains why Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy and Lauren DeStafano’s The Chemical Garden trilogy are NOT in the same genre despite both of them being labeled as dystopian. As a lover of both of those trilogies, I found myself nodding my head at every sentence of this article. (Also, the writer’s name is Shannon, too. Small world full of Shannon’s. Beware.) It’s definitely worth the read if you want to know more about the differences between the genres.

But because of the blending of these genres, I wanted to add one more thing:

If I had to guess where the market is headed, I would say that this exact blending of genres will cause science-fiction to be the next “big” thing, but who knows what will take over next? My bet is on aliens.

What do you think? Have you seen genres blend during popularity spikes? Do you think the blending affects where the market takes off next?

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

Join me on FB, and your responses might be used next!

On my Facebook author page, I asked what makes a novel dystopian, and here were a few answers:

Alexis Danielle Allinson: Dystopian to me means a darker, non-conformity ending whether it is death, hum drum life goes on, the “bad-guy” takes over or the end of everything. (continued on FB page.)

Dan Thompson: My current WIP ‘Here Lies Love’ touches on dystopian themes. In my story, the sun has disappeared, leaving existence and life futile and mundane. More of subsistence really. My book isn’t about the dystopian setting however, more about how my main character deals with the obstacles thrown at her and how she tries to create a life for herself.

Tell us your thoughts below!

~SAT

So You Want to be a Book Blogger

6 Mar

I must clarify one thing before I start: I am not a book blogger, but I used to be – for about three years. (Fun fact: I also had a short stay on Let’s Get It On, Kansas City.) I’m an author, too, so – naturally – I adore book bloggers. In a metaphor, book bloggers are an author’s best friend. Readers who don’t blog are the friends that authors meet at the book blogger’s party. The reason I’m writing this is to make that party as enjoyable as possible. Below I have outlined some tips to help out book bloggers get started with their website as well as how to create a fun and safe environment for bloggers, readers, and authors.  (Actually, a lot of these tips are good for any kind of blogger, so I hope you enjoy them.)

For Your Website: These tips will help your website be as user-friendly as possible.

1. Have a Contact Page, Review Request Form, and/or a Review Policy:

This is not for those book bloggers who only want to read what they choose on their own. This is rather advice for those book bloggers who are looking for authors, publishers, and other people to submit novels. Be clear about what you want to read and what you never want to read. Include types of information you want in a request, like a link to Amazon or the synopsis. If you are closed for submissions, put that at the top in bold. This way, requesters don’t read pages of information only to realize you’re not accepting anything. Clarify if you accept self-published and small press published authors. I would also suggest adding if you reply to all requests or only the ones you’re interested in. That way, you won’t get as many repeat emails, wondering if you received their request.

I think I’ve read this book before...

I think I’ve read this book before…

2. Have an About Me Page:

Include your favorite and least favorite novels, – and if you want to be really specific, include your ratings of well-known novels, like Fifty Shades or The Hunger Games. We want to know more about what you like. We don’t want to send you a novel that you’ll despise. Have a name on your blog. It doesn’t have to be your REAL name. But requesters like to be personal. We want you to know we enjoy your website and using your name is one way we can prove we aren’t sending you a mass request email that everyone is annoyed by. Having nothing to call you by is very awkward for some of us. Personally, I love sharing what draws me into a website, so knowing more about you helps us share your blog to others. For instance, if you’re a librarian, I will tell my followers how much I admire your dedication to spreading the love for words to others. (And being surrounded by books all day must be lovely.)

 3Include a Rating System:

I believe this is often neglected but really important because requesters want to know if, how, where, and when you will be posting reviews. Clarify if you will use the 5-Star Rating System and/or if you will post on other pages. For instance, if you say 3.5 on your blog, explain what you’ll do on websites that aren’t accomendating to that (like if you will generally lean up or down or if it depends on the novel.) State if you will or will not post your review no matter the rating. Unfortunately, there are many authors right now who are demanding reviewers to only post the review if it is a certain rating. This is causing a very hostile reading environment, and I hope this is a way to prevent that. Although I don’t agree with authors who demand this, I still suggest clarifying that you will post your review, even if it is below 5 stars. That way, they won’t demand it from you later or send you nasty emails when it happens.

The one last thing I would suggest is to consider the name of your blog carefully. It is your blog – of course – but try to avoid having an insinuating name that contradicts the blog’s purpose (ex: “Magical Book Reviews” when you don’t read novels with magical elements.) This will cause great confusion and lots of frustrations. It’s also easily avoidable.

Connect with me on Facebook

Connect with me on Facebook

At first, this was where I was going to start talking about rating and reviewing novels, but the post was too long, so I will share my thoughts on that another day. However, I have tips for authors as well:

Disclaimer For Authors:

Remember that book bloggers are your best friend. This means we must treat them as such. Respecting boundaries is important. Don’t request a review from someone until you have read their review policy, and definitely do not contact them with your dinosaur erotica if they state they hate dinosaurs or erotica or both (even if you think you will somehow change their mind.) If you receive a poor review, do not retaliate in any way. If you’re going to say anything at all, just thank them. They read your book, after all. If you promised to share their review, share it. If they promised to review a book but never did, be polite when asking them how they are and/or if they are still interested in reading your novel.

Sometimes, expectations are not what happen, but surprises can also be better. Helping one another know what to do in certain situations can improve everyone’s relationship, but it does take two. Taking these steps might help our friendship be even better than it was before.

We want the author-to-reader relationship to be a fun and an exciting relationship, so let’s be sure to celebrate one another with respect and enthusiasm.

Here’s to our love for books.

~SAT

Amazon: 37 Ratings, 4.75 Stars (Goodreads had 97)

Amazon: 37 Ratings, 4.75 Stars (Goodreads had 97)

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