Tag Archives: The Mortal Instruments

Should Authors Have More Say in Adaptations?

30 Jan

Should authors have more say when their novels are adapted to TV or film?

Short answer: Absolutely. But the long answer is a lot more complicated.

For one, authors write novels for a reason. That’s how they like to express themselves. TV and movie writing is a completely different ballgame. When I studied screenwriting in college, for instance, I had never felt so lost in my life. That being said, I don’t think authors should be entirely removed from their work when it is adapted just because it’s a different art form. In fact, I think it benefits everyone to work together. (I also understand that TV/Film rights have a lot to do with the author’s literary agency and how they negotiated a deal.) After acknowledging that, though, I want to talk about why I wish authors had more say so in the end.

Do you watch Shadowhunters on FreeForm? No. Don’t worry. I’ll write this article around it, but I think it’s a great, modern example of how adaptations can go wrong, even in a damaging way, so it might be easier to understand if you do watch the show or read the books or check out the article I discuss below.

Recently, Cassandra Clare did an interview about the adaption of her popular YA series, The Mortal Instruments, both with the flop-film in 2013 and the current TV series, Shadowhunters. I highly recommend you read this (and share it): Cassandra Clare Shares the Troubles and Triumphs of Seeing the Shadowhunters World Onscreen

Listen, I’m a HUGE Cassandra Clare fan. I’m also a pretty open-minded fan. In fact, I rarely complain about adaptations, because that’s what they are—adaptations—and I even enjoyed the movie. (No, seriously, I own it and watch it all the time.) I was also a fan of the show…until recently.

Returning to the interview (which again, please read), I was appalled by some of the changes and ideas strewn throughout the show.

It grosses me out that FreeForm’s original goal was to take away Alec and Magnus’s relationship, because they are gay, while adding unnecessary violence against the female characters “to attract a male audience.”

Um…excuse me?

I mean, seriously? Does that not gross you out? That entire concept?

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Spoilers ahead for books and show. If you want to skip, look for next bolded line.

I was always bothered by Alec’s fiancée Lydia in Season 1, but I can also admit that I didn’t notice the difference in violence against the female cast until last week’s episode. Between Lydia’s attack, Izzy’s attack, Clary being “stabbed” in a dream sequence, and Jocelyn’s death that never happened in the books, I found myself highly uncomfortable and trying to figure out why. Then I read Cassandra Clare’s interview, and it all made sense. I am all for adaptations, but last week’s episode was wrong, whether or not Jocelyn comes back to life in tonight’s episode.
 (Which, I think, she most likely will.)

End of spoilers.

The new team claims to have a different stance than the previous producers, but last week showed much of the same problematic instances, including unnecessarily violence against the female cast and keeping a gay couple apart because “no audience wants to see that” (insert middle finger here). I also did not find it a coincidence that they only sent Clare the first three episodes of Season 2 for her approval and then this fourth one followed the original, damaging aspects. Granted, will I watch it tonight? Probably. I want to see if they’ll change their ways before I judge too harshly. But that doesn’t change my opinion about last week’s episode or what we learned through Clare’s interview—an interview, I will add, that was very brave. Authors aren’t normally so open and honest about this topic. Mainly because there is a conflict of interest, but also because we expect authors to simply be grateful that their work is being adapted at all. A sentiment I disagree with.

I am so glad Cassandra Clare fought to change some of the script, because the changes didn’t just misrepresent the story; the changes misrepresented the work (and the author) entirely.

If an adaptation is homophobic, racist, sexist, or otherwise damaging, shouldn’t an author be able to step in and stop it?

Again, I’m ALL for adaptations. I’m not saying that an author should have the final say over every little thing, or even over major aspects of book-to-movie life. But I do believe in creating better, positive pieces of art. And if a director told me they were going to start abusing females and tearing LGBTQIA characters apart because “men like that”, I’d hope that the world would back me up in stopping such an atrocity.

What do you think? Should authors have more say-so in adaptations? If so, what should they have control over and when? Where is the line? And should they draw a new one?

~SAT

 

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#MondayBlogs What Changes From First Draft to Publication?

16 May

What changes from first draft to publication? So much. In fact, nearly everything. But if the answer was that simple, an entire article (or even whole books on the topic) wouldn’t be necessary, so there’s more to this answer than it seems. Despite that, I insist you take my article with a grain of salt. In the end, everyone’s writing method is different, so everyone’s editing process will be fine-tuned to fit that particular project. Figuring out what works for you and what needs to be done is key, but I wanted to discuss a few topics that almost always change for everyone, so you can prepare yourself for the battle ahead. (It’s a fun battle, I promise.)

1. Word Count

Please, please, please be open to changing your word count. This is especially true for those writers pursuing traditional publication. For every genre, for every age group, there is a “perfect” word count range you’re basically expected to fall into when querying or pitching. Yes, there are exceptions. You might even become the exception during an editing process, but knowing how long or short your story should be shows your knowledge for the market and for what’s appropriate for your audience. That being said, I’m going to contradict myself and say it’s better to be true to the story than to fit a standard, but keep an open mind when rereading your work to see if you can fit the standard. Maybe a scene isn’t necessary. Maybe two scenes can be combined. You might even find yourself contemplating a cut of your favorite scenes or characters, and sometimes, that’s necessary. Keep it in a folder. Share it as an extra on Wattpad later. But making sure everything is vital is one of those tricky but true things a writer must overcome. I struggle with this myself! Almost all of my novels’ first drafts are 130,000 words, but I quickly figure out a lot of it was repetitive information or information not needed for a storyline. I might save it for a sequel or condense it somewhere else, but I tend to find reaching those ideal word counts isn’t that hard as long as I allow myself to let things go and move on. Letting go can be difficult though, so to help you with that, I suggest you read The Disposability of Ideas by Maggie Stiefvater. She is the author of The Raven Cycle and a mad genius when it comes to letting things go, even when you don’t want to.

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2. Characters

Names. Descriptions. Backgrounds. Even their existence might change. Oftentimes, writers will find that two characters in a draft can be combined to serve one purpose, or visa versa (one character could become two). Publishers are notorious for changing names—especially of protagonists—but I always suggest writers face this problem themselves before submitting. Don’t count on publishers choosing the perfect name, and try not to get attached in case they do change it in the end. I personally like to take notes of a characters’ background while also keeping a list of other names used in the story. This way, I make sure I’m using different types of names, including the first letter, the syllable count, the sound, etc.—all while staying true to their background as a person. As an editor, I receive a lot of manuscripts where all 20-some characters have similar sounding names, and unless that serves a purpose (like twins named closely together), it can get really confusing really fast. Of course, names is a shallow example of what can be changed, but I think it’s a good one since many writers get very attached to names quickly…and I’m about to expand on characters a little more in my last topic.

3. Major Changes and Rewrites

In the end, your plot, purpose, genre, or even cast could change completely. I, for one, just finished a manuscript that started off as a 62,000-word draft and ended up being a 92,000-word novel. Why? Because I was missing that much information the first time around. I wasn’t sure about my setting, I didn’t know my characters THAT well, and the secrets didn’t reveal themselves until the end. On top of that, I’m a plotter, not a pantser, so this was a painful book for me, but I followed my gut and did what I could and then, I faced my rewrites head-on. Let me use characters as an example for how much could change overall. A character’s gender, sexual orientation, secrets, lifestyle, background, and mindset could change simply because you didn’t TRULY know that character when you first set out to write the book (even though you thought you did). I recall Cassandra Clare discussing this at a panel I attended recently. For those of who are familiar with The Mortal Instrument series, she actually didn’t plan the big twist about Jace at the end, and she simply couldn’t understand why he acted the way he did for over 700 pages of the first draft. It wasn’t until she got there that she learned that vital aspect about his life, and so, naturally, she had to go back and rewrite the entire story to make his character real again. Don’t shy away from the right change, even if that change demands an entire rewrite. That change could be what makes your book.

The first draft is only the beginning, but that fact doesn’t have to be a scary thing. It can be an amazing thing. All writers go through it, and all writers come out of each stage happier than they were in the previous stages. Rewriting that 62,000-word draft I discussed above, for instance, was one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on. When it finally began to take shape, I was satisfied and proud of the work. Before I rewrote it, it simply sat on my computer collecting technology dust. Think of editing and rewriting as another writing adventure—one that will take you one step closer to publication—and what could be better than that?

Original posted March 20, 2014.

(On a side note, the original is VERY different than this article. I actually focused on a real novel of mine, so if you want to see a detailed account of what I went through with one novel, this is a great article to read.)

~SAT

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November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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#ReaderProblems Fandoms vs. Mobs

3 Feb

All right. All right. I’m not telling anyone they cannot have an opinion. You can. (Of course.) But I wanted to discuss an upsetting trend that bothers me down in my fandom core.

Readers ALWAYS hate every adaptation. And it isn’t just hate. It’s very loud, very aggressive, very complete hate. Welcome, fandom mobs.

I get it. I do. I am a reader before I am a writer. I’m in many fandoms, and I am in love with many worlds and characters and storylines, and they mean more to me than words on a page. Those worlds were my safe places when I wanted to escape. Those characters were my friends when I felt alone. Those storylines were my explorations when I couldn’t leave my home. Seeing them butchered is like witnessing the mockery of something you love. I get it. But don’t pick up the pitchfork yet.

Adaptations are adaptations. They are not a mockery, because they are not the same thing. The adaptations are inspired by the books we love, and we must keep that in mind…and we need that mind to be an open mind.

Why?

The reason movie and television producers pick up books and create adaptations is because there is already an audience. That audience, hopefully, will attend first, and then encourage others to attend too…even despite differences. If anything, I remember differences being another form of entertainment. When Harry Potter first started releasing (when I was 11), my friend delighted in explaining what was different, but she never said it was wrong or terrible or discouraged me from trying it out for myself. If anything, it made me consider reading the books, and she offered me her first one to borrow so I could catch up by the sequel’s release.

This is what we, as a fandom, need to concentrate on. We want to encourage new readers and viewership so they can make their own opinions…even if you don’t like the adaptation…and that means concentrating on being positive. A newcomer is not going to pick up a book if that book is in the hands of an angry mob with pitchforks. But if you sit back and—in the least—enjoy discussing everything, maybe they will pick up that book and join your awesome fandom.

The reason I wanted to talk about this, as I’m sure many of you know, is due to the second adaptation of The Mortal Instruments. The 2013 movie bombed, and now, the TV show has released. Personally, I loved the movie. I also enjoy the TV show. I’m not picky. (Obvs.) I read the book, and I know this isn’t the book. In fact, the producers made that quite clear. To me, as long as they get the “mood” of the characters, I’m pretty happy. In fact the show changed the overall tone of the story for me. As a reader, the books were a dark paranormal comedy, but the show is cheese all around. You know what? That’s okay. I could use some more cheese in my life. And one of my favorite parts of this entire experience was calling up my best friend to discuss the differences between the books and the show, because we read them together years ago and reread them together again. (Chernobyl, seriously?)

Then, as opinions rolled out, I saw it happen again. Just like the movie. The mob came out.

The disturbing trend of absolute hate in this adaptation, not once but twice, is a great example of the consequences that could follow if we keep doing this.

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The book, the movie, the show

When the movie released, everyone hated it. Hated it. Now that the show is out, I see more love for the movie than ever. I do find it ironic that everyone is suddenly talking about how much they loved The Mortal Instruments movie now that they dislike the TV show. Granted, marketing had a lot to do with the movie’s failure as well, but the fandom had a huge hand in it.

All the complaining about the movie convinced no outsiders to see the movie, and the poor sales caused the sequel’s cancelation.

So…where were all these “lovers of the movie” back then? I know I didn’t see many, because I felt rather alone in how much I enjoyed it. I saw it twice—in a nearly empty theatre both times—and I’ve watched it over a dozen times total. My DVD copy sits on my DVD player at all times. Other TMI fans even made me feel like a bad TMI fan because I liked it, but I still talked about how much I loved it. Don’t be afraid to say you enjoyed it, and don’t attack fellow fans. This is where we go wrong…but please don’t get me wrong. I had my dislikes about the movie as well. (Alec, for one, who I actually enjoyed in the TV show.) And I was vocal about that to my friend. That being said, I also gushed over Lily and Jamie and even Raphael. I told everyone I knew to at least try it out or to read the books. I also explained a lot of the missing elements to the friends who checked it out and wanted to know more.

It’s okay to complain or discuss differences, but try to be positive. This is a fandom, after all. You want more people to join it. Why not explain some differences of the show to newcomers and encourage them to get the book?

I might tell people I liked this or I disliked that, but I try to focus on what I liked the most. I try to tie it into the book. I try to do what my friend did for me all those years back with Harry Potter. I sit down with them and talk about it and explain questions the adaptations might not have covered and I encourage them to get the book and see for themselves.

Don’t let your fandom turn into a mob. Fandoms are supposed to be fun. They are supposed to be exhilarating and great. A place where all fans can come together and be friends and discuss and draw pictures and write fan-fiction and celebrate the books.

If we keep doing this, our fandoms will no longer be fandoms; they will be mobs. And those mobs are going to take out all future adaptations. Eventually, there will be no reason for producers to pick up a book’s crowd.

Read, encourage, repeat.

But, most of all, have fun again,

~SAT

Come get your books signed on February 13, from 1-3 PM during the Barnes & Noble Valentine’s Day Romance Author Event in Wichita, Kansas at Bradley Fair. Come meet Tamara GranthamCandice GilmerTheresa RomainJan Schliesman, and Angi Morgan! 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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#SATurdate: Shadowhunters, Bad Bloods Shorts, BuzzFeed Books, and Zombie Clowns

16 Jan

Today was one of those crazy whiplash weeks where writing wasn’t the best, and then encouragement brought it all back! Keep chasing the dream.

What I’m Writing:

I basically skipped a section of Take Me Yesterday and continued to write in it, so I am moving forward, but I’m still struggling with it. (I always struggle, eh?) I wrote about two, very rough chapters. That being said, I worked on short stories for Bad Bloods this week too…which I’m going to talk about below, so let me know what you think!

What I’m Publishing:

My publisher is working on some awesome swag for you all, and I worked on the proofreads once again. I’m thinking about putting up short stories on Wattpad leading up to the book releases. Basically, it would be a prequel to show how all the bad bloods found one another and created their flocks. What is a flock? A flock is a group of 12 bad bloods who come together to survive. In Bad Bloods, there are four, but only two are left: The Northern Flock and the Southern Flock. Since each flock has 12 characters, you’re looking at 24 side characters alone. The short stories would only show 21 of these stories, so I would start posting them toward the end of February. Let me know if you think you’d be interested in this. And, of course, the #1lineWed winning preview is below. This week’s theme was old.

“I may be a homeless old man, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless.”

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

purpleI started Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass, but I’m only about 100 pages in, so I’m barely into the competition. So far, it reads a lot like The Hunger Games, but it’s not dystopian and a hundreds times funnier. I’m enjoying it.

I started and finished Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, V. 10 by Naoko Takeuchi. As many of you know, I love this series, but this is my favorite arc by far. We see so many aspects finally come together, but I think something no one ever thinks about regarding Chibiusa is answered in this volume. While it’s just a theory, I think one of the reasons she “feels” for Mamoru is because he’s tied into Helios’ soul. Of course, it’s up for interpretation, but that’s just my lil ol’ opinion. You can read my 5-star review here.

What I’m Listening To:

Mambo Italiano radio. This might be why I finally had a dream in Italian. I used to listen to this radio a TON when I was in college studying Italian.

What I’m Watching:

Shadowhunters. Yes, of course I watched it. As I said on my FB page, I loved it. I think it has a lot of potential to grow into itself, and I’m hopeful. I particularly loved Alec and Simon. (And of course Magnus.) But I wasn’t in love with Clary or Jace. The super-techy institute bothered me the most, but I can see it getting much better as the show continues on. ::fingerscrossed::
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The Revenant Okay. So I’m not normally into historical, non-fiction entertainment. (You caught me.) But my roommate is. He eats it up. (Which comes in handy when I need to know historical events for my novels. He does help. A lot.) So, you guessed it. I saw this masterpiece, and boy, is it a masterpiece. The beginning is VIOLENT. (All capitals.) The bear mauling is WOW. (It takes a while.) The rest of the film is slow, but in a way that I think the average historical piece is. And considering, in real life, he CRAWLED 200 miles (rather than walked like in the movie), I can imagine it was much slower in real life. Here’s my thing with historical things like this. I get so into it, but I don’t TRUST it. I know it’s lying somewhere, so I always end up Googling everything and learning the truth, and I almost always love the truth MORE. I don’t want to spoil it, but the movie is great. The ending is really cinematic, but the real-life story—to me—is so much more chilling. (Even though it’d be boring as hell to watch on the screen.) So, check this movie out. My love goes out to Leo. My roommate’s love always goes out to Tom Hardy. (I’ll give him love for his signature grunt.)

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I made beef stew. That’s it. I’ve been surviving this week. My services have been crazy. So glad so many of you are meeting your writing and editing goals in 2016 already! 

What I’m Wearing:

Long socks. They go up to my knees. And they are so warm.

What I’m Wanting:

Episode 3 of Shadowhunters! On a side note, this is actually the hardest section for me to fill out. I rarely “want” anything…other than sequels to books.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I had my first dream in a foreign language, which was pretty funny to me, because my old Italians teachers used to say you were finally fluent when you dreamt in Italian. It’s been two years since my last formal class.

On a side note, I also had this terrible dream where a zombie apocalypse happened every first Friday of every month. So, there were all these laws where you could kill people who turned into zombies, but only if they were a zombie in that moment (so only on first Fridays). Well, it was a first Friday, and I was trying to drive away from them, but there were hundreds on the highway, so I pulled over into a little cabin, thinking it was fine. Now imagine that scene in Jurassic Park where the water glass starts rippling. That happens. And a GIANT clown zombie entered.

That’s it. I wake up.

What Else Is Going On:

I hosted Author in a Coffee Shop, Episode 2 last night! Follow me on Twitter via @AuthorSAT next Friday at 7 p.m. CDT for the next episode. If you’re wondering what Author in the Coffee Shop is, it’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop and tweet out my writer thoughts while…you know…I people watch…for inspiration. Here’s a sneak peek:

My friend captured the moment.

My friend captured the moment.

I was featured on BuzzFeed Books, 31 Funny Tweets That Are Way, Way Too Real For Writers! I was #22. I’m not going to lie, this was pretty insane for me. I read BuzzFeed Books daily. In fact, I actually was reading the article myself when my face appeared. It was surreal.

The Timely Death Trilogy hit 500 ratings! Thank you for reading and for taking the time to post a review. You mean a lot to me. If you haven’t checked out the Dark yet, Minutes Before Sunset 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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After reading, you can 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. I’d love to see you!

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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: Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

1 Jul

Can We Stop Hating on E.L. James and Stephenie Meyer?

Seriously. Are we over it yet? Surely, we can find something better to do by now—like talking about authors you love instead of the ones you hate.

I get it. I do. A lot of people had issues with the content of these stories, and they feel that they must express what was wrong with it and why. Don’t get me wrong. I deeply support you stating your opinion. What I don’t support is things like this:

The Twitter Live Chat with ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ author E.L. James Did Not Go Well. But since this article shows the “nicer” tweets, try going to Twitter and typing in #AskELJames. It’s horrendous.

There is a time and a place and a way to talk about what you disagree with and what you dislike. Take this article, for instance. Instead of bombarding a fan Q&A, these tweeters could’ve emailed her, written a review, posted on a blog, or a million other things, but instead, they took time away from her fans just because they don’t like/agree with her work. I don’t care if you agree with her work or not. This is the author equivalent of being a heckler at a comedic show. You showed up just to ruin it for everyone else just because you don’t like it. It’s like showing up at a movie theater and playing loud music so no one can enjoy the movie just because you find it offensive. It’s just noise. Again, I have nothing wrong with someone stating they do not like someone/something, but there is a time and place. At a fan Q&A is neither the time nor the place.

It’s moments like this that are causing a dramatic change in the publishing industry, and it terrifies me. More and more authors are retreating from social media completely (and, in turn, their fans), including people like John Green, who was recently accused of being a child molester just because he writes for teens.

Didn’t see that?

Well, here’s an article for you: ‘Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green launches furious attack on Tumblr users for accusing him of sexual abuse and being a pedophile. Keep in mind this is the man who wrote about cancer in The Fault in Our Stars, life and death in Looking For Alaska, and friendship in the novel and the upcoming movie, Paper Towns.

While we’re at it, here’s an article from the infamous Cassandra Clare about why she left social media for a while. ‘Mortal Instruments’ Creator Reveals How Female Authors Can be ‘Dehumanized’ by their own Fandom. Spoiler Alert: People were harassing her.

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By now, I hope my article’s title has gone beyond Stephenie Meyer and EL James, but I had to use their names because it seems—to me—that everyone loves to hate them, and no one sees that there are hundreds of other authors going through the same thing, because—unfortunately—it has become a trend. This sort of behavior does nothing but damage writers and readers alike. Again, I understand wanting to educate readers—but write an article. Write a review. Email the author directly. (Most have an email, and by the sounds of 50 Shades, EL James is probably a fan of email.) Talk to your friends, even. You know what? Go ahead and tweet your disagreements too, but try not to during a time set aside for fans. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you were at a book signing for your favorite author and it got canceled because someone showed up with a microphone shouting obscenities just because they didn’t like your favorite author? What if you FINALLY got to meet J.K. Rowling and someone was there, screaming about witchcraft and the devil the whole time? It just isn’t cool or fair or getting anyone anywhere.

On top of that, it should not be acceptable for people to tweet, “Has your husband killed himself yet?” for ANY reason. (This was a real tweet sent to EL James.) We should not support tweeters who make fun of disorders, like mental health issues, just because they want to make fun of an author (or anyone for that matter). I wish I could quote who said this (so please comment if you know because I cannot find it), butthere is a difference between criticism of a work and abuse of a human being.” And we should not just brush this off as “That’s the Internet nowadays.”

It doesn’t have to be.

The Internet can be as positive as we make it.

It starts with us.

Tweet about who you love. Go to their Q&As. Represent yourself well. And if you dislike something, email them, tell your friends, write an informative article. Hell, tweet to them during another time that isn’t meant for fans, and definitely don’t dehumanize an author (or anyone).

But for freakin sake,

Stop being a troll

~SAT

P.S. Just to reiterate an important part: It’s okay to dislike something and to express that dislike. I just feel like there is a time and place to state such things, like tweeting during a time that isn’t meant for fans. I also believe there is a way to express yourself. Ex. “I dislike this because a, b, and c.” rather than “You’re a pedophile for writing for teens, John Green.”

I’m afraid more and more authors are going to leave the social realm completely if things do not change. That is why I wrote this article—to encourage a more positive social environment on the Internet before everyone gives up and leaves. I truly believe it begins with us. It begins with expressing your dislikes in a meaningful way, but it grows when you share the authors you love more than talking about the ones you hate. Everything begins with love, and I love this industry more than anything.

P.S. OMG. (Can I say OMG? Can I? Just this one, little time? Please?)

We’re officially in July! 

Minutes Before Sunset releases in 27 days on July 28, 2015! 

Today is also the LAST day to enter the Goodreads Giveaway, but you can also pre-order Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, by clicking the links.

Stay tuned. Stay Dark. ~SAT

Pre-order today!

Pre-order today!

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

19 Aug

What I’ve Learned Rewriting a Seven-Year-Old Novel

As many of you know, I am currently rewriting November Snow – my very first publication. Although I started writing it when I was 11, it didn’t get published until I was 16. I took it off the shelves for many years, and it is basically off the shelves right now for many reasons, but the main reason is how unprofessionally it was handled. (Mainly because the publishing world has changed a lot since then, but we’ll get into that in a minute.)

So I’m rewriting this older tale, and I’m looking forward to day I can share it again, but today, I wanted to talk about all of the little lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. I was a terrible writer, and I probably still am

Seriously. I hope I look back when I’m 59 on what I’m writing now with the same amount of horror. That means I’ve grown. That means I’m still learning, and changing, and morphing into what the new art demands.

2. I needed help. Lots of help. Professional help.

By this, I mean editors. Yes, I’m talking about you, editors. You are lovely. I’m practically preparing my altar right now. If only I had known you existed back then… Now, before you judge me for not having one, 2007 was a very different time in publishing (and I was 16.) Kindle had just been released, but it was brand new. There were no supporters online or fellow indie writers just waiting to speak with you in chatrooms. I don’t even think Wattpad was around yet. (Okay. I just looked it up. It launched in November of 2006 – but I already had November Snow written by then, and I definitely didn’t join Wattpad until 2010.) But the Indie world hadn’t started marching proudly yet. That goes for cover artists, too. You may have seen the weird cover I had. That’s because affordable cover artists – like editors – didn’t exist in easy-to-reach places, and I was 15 when the publisher wanted a cover. I didn’t exactly have the ability to network or pay a large sum of money or drive around town to find a photographer. So my older brother drew my vision on a napkin. What I TRULY wanted actually looks a lot like the designed covers of The Mortal Instruments series. (which is probably why I refused to read the series for such a long time. That was my cover, dammit.) Speaking of which, if you know a cover artist you think could design something wicked for November Snow, please – suggest away. I’m looking right now.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

Burning city? Check. Orange on purple? Check. Giant people looming over everything. Check.

3. Despite all of that, things aren’t as bad as they seem

The storyline rocks, and the characters melt me and break me at the same time. They’re challenging, and the dark twists and turns don’t stop. People have enjoyed it despite the mistakes, and it’s more or less going to have the same plots, secrets, and betrayals. For all you original November Snow fans, I beg of you – please refrain from spoiling the story for new readers. (That is my only worry.) But if you must know, yes, whoever you’re thinking about still dies. Yes, them, too.

4. And it’s getting better

Some characters have actually formed MORE than before, and I’m only on November 4. (For those of you who don’t know, November Snow literally takes place over one month, and yes, it’s November.) While the original beginning was rather forced, this new beginning builds up the world of Vendona with honesty (and brutality) that I was unable to show when I first wrote it. The characters aren’t as cheesy, and the extra fluff has been trimmed into a fashionable haircut (who needs speaking tags anyway?) Physical descriptions have been shifted for the better, and the scenes connect in a cleaner, more concise way. Many names have been changed as well, but the main characters will remain largely the same. (Ex. Caitlin to Catelyn, Michelle to Michele, but Drew is now Floyd. I’ll announce more on this later.)

5. I started off second-guessing, and now, I’m really happy

I wasn’t sure why November Snow has been haunting me for all of these years, but I’ve figured it out a few weeks ago when I wrote My 11-Year-Old Self was a Better Writer. I am meant to write darker stories. I know this about myself. I write darker fiction. I enjoy it. I find myself in it, and that’s where my creativity belongs. Returning to November Snow is allowing myself to find that passion again, but – most of all – it’s helping me fully embrace it.

Just the other day, I received an email from a reviewer of Take Me Tomorrow. She talked about how much darker it is from the trilogy and how she is definitely looking forward to my future works. On Twitter, two readers translated November Snow into Spanish, and an old friend from my high school messaged me when they heard that I was rewriting it. They couldn’t wait. They’ve been waiting for a rewrite ever since I returned to my novelist ways. Another longtime fan offered to beta read it since they know the story so well. (They wanted to make sure I didn’t forget anything.) And a graphic designer already offered to help design a cover, even if I choose to use someone else.

These moments bring tears to my eyes.They do.

I won’t lie. I’m nervous. I’m terribly, sickeningly nervous. When I wrote a controversial scene the other night, I could barely get through it, but I did, and afterward, I felt like my readers accomplished it with their encouragement. (And my typing helped a little bit.) But I ultimately hope to learn more lessons along the way, so I can share them, and we can discuss them as we go. Have you ever learned anything about rewriting? Any advice? Warnings?

~SAT

Website Wonders

1 Apr

Welcome to April! Before I share those websites for writers, readers, and dreamers that I have collected in the last two months, I have two wonderful bits of new to share with you all.

Tranquil Dreams reviewed Minutes Before Sunset, but they also reviewed The City of Worms by Roy Huff, so you can check out two novels at once. “This novel sets the stage for the battle of Light and Dark and honestly, for the first time in my life, I’m behind the Dark.  I look forward to reading the next one a lot.” Find out why Tranquil Dreams said, “I totally recommend this one!” by clicking here

After checking that out, swing by my latest interview by clicking here. Mental Cheesecake asked me if I would prefer the powers of the Light or the Dark, what inspired the covers of The Timely Death Trilogy, and if I like Jace or Simon more in The Mortal Instruments.

Now – the website wonders: 

I wasn’t able to do this in February, so I’m including both February’s and March’s here. Below, the websites are organized by categories, including Great Reads, Business Help for Writers, Art Related to Books, Book-to-Movie Trailers, and Inspiration. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Great Reads:

14 year-old’s clever poem knocks Twitter backwards: I love this. Not only is it a great poem, but it’s relevant to today’s culture. It also shows off the great abilities of this young poet.

This Comic About Love Will Touch Your Heart: I thought this comic was a cute read. It sparked some debate among readers due to the subject matter of a breakup and a new relationship, but I think – if read for simple entertainment (which is what I think it was designed for) – it’s cute, sweet, and fun.

40 Freaking Creepy Ass Two Sentence Stories: I love horror. (American Horror Story is practically the only show I watch.) And these short stories gave me chills! You’ve been warned.

Business Help for Writers:

Amazon’s history should teach us to beware ‘friendly’ internet giants: As much as I love Amazon, I am afraid of any company gaining from a monopolized market. This article deals with the warnings of how this might be a future possibility and how we can prevent it.

8 Ways to be a Better Facebook Page Admin: This is great advice for anyone struggling with their business Facebook page. I used it, and my Facebook Page has been my number two referrer to my website (after search engines) for two months in a row.

A Facebook Change Authors Need to Know About: Again, this article is amazing. It will help enhance your views on your Facebook page.

Inside Amtrak’s (Absolutely Awesome) Plan to Give Free Rides to Writers: Amtrak called for writers to submit to this program, and I turned in my application a few days ago! It would be an unbelievable dream come true for them to pick me, but I hope the writers they pick enjoy it for all of us! I can’t wait to read what others write, even if I’m not chosen to travel in their program.

 Nine Writers And Publicists Tell All About Readings And Book Tours: I loved this because it shows the realities of what goes on behind the scenes, even for the most popular writers. A few years ago, I think it would be taboo for authors to share their true emotions about their dream profession, but it’s nice to see the acceptability of speaking truthfully about an author’s life.

Wait. A first person narrative isn’t serious???: By Nathan Bransford, I actually wrote a response to this article on my blog called It’s All About Perspective…Or Is It?. I loved what Bransford had to say about this narrative style because he proves how serious it can be, and I think it ultimately shows how much the industry is changing.

Art Related to Books:

Design Stack: Paper Jewelry: I thought these were beautiful, and they also made me wonder what my novel would be carved into. I would like to believe a tree necklace or a yin-yang symbol.

23 Epic Literary Love Tattoos: One of my favorite poems is in this collection of literary tattoos. I don’t have any tattoos, but I like looking at them. I find them to be quite inspirational.

Mind-Blowing LEGO Recreation of LOTR’s Helm’s Deep Battle: I grew up with LEGOS. I was crazy about LEGOS. My brother was worse than me. It wasn’t rare for one of my parents to step on our array of LEGOS. (We even had a LEGO camera) So I loved this LEGO town designed around Lord of the Rings.

Book-to-Movie Trailers:

The Giver Trailer: Meryl Streep Vs. Taylor Swift: I was so looking forward to The Giver movie adaptation (which I mentioned in my blog post 2014 Books to Movies, but this doesn’t even look close. Not even a little bit. Flying space ships? Oh, the nervous feelings I have. My heart might break for one of my favorite novels this August.

The Maze Runner (Official Trailer): Unlike The Giver, I am looking forward to this adaptation now that I’ve seen the trailer. It looks awesome.

Inspiration:

25 Romantic Words That Don’t Exist in English But Should: I find untranslatable words to be beautifully mysterious – like the gorgeous stranger you wish you had talked to that one night. (There’s probably a word in this list for that.)

24 Most Terrifying and Haunted Places You’d Never Want To Be In: Like I said, I’m a horror fan. This sort of stuff gets my heart going, and my heart gets my inspiration going.

Mugshots of Poets: I found this to be inspirational because it shows – again – the realities of some of the most famous writers of all time. Jack Kerouac is definitely in this list. (He’s one of my favorite authors of all time.)

Children Read To Shelter Cats To Soothe Them: I love cats. I love reading. This was amazing.

Again, I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! I apologize for not sharing them in February, too, but I will share more. I always share these on my author Facebook page, so join me there. I can’t wait until my next blog post! I have exciting news coming. April is going to be an adventure.

~SAT

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