Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Burning Out on Your Fav Genre

28 Oct

Before every YA fantasy writer in the world loses their mind, I want to start out by saying that I, myself, am a YA fantasy writer and reader. Again, try not to lose your minds. This isn’t a personal attack. There’s some AMAZING YA SFF coming out right now. My most recent fav was Warcross by Marie Lu. But lately, I have been so burnt out on YA fantasy.

Being burnt out on YA SFF makes me sad, too.

Honestly, this is really difficult for me to admit. I LOVE YA fantasy. I’ve always read it, I mainly write it, and I’m constantly on the lookout for more of it. But recently, I have picked up book after book after book—and I’ve barely been able to connect. Worse? At first I thought it must’ve been the authors or the stories. Then, after a self-criticizing conversation with myself, I realized it was my fault.

You see, all I’ve been reading and writing is YA SFF—and that’s the problem. While writers are constantly told that they need to be reading what they are writing, we aren’t told as often to read outside of what we’re writing, and reading outside of your genre is just as important. Why? Because it teaches different approaches, different voices, different everything. And it helps you from burning out.

So what do you do when you burn out on your favorite genre?

 1. Try a different sub-genre

One genre has a million sub-categories, so try one you don’t usually pick up. For instance, fantasy is a HUGE umbrella term. Maybe you’re reading too much epic fantasy or urban fantasy. Try historical fantasy instead. Or reach into the fringes and grab that alien-vampire-cowboy mash-up you’ve been secretly eyeing.

2. Try a new age category

Don’t forget that there’s a fantasy section in the children’s, YA, and adult sections. Heck, grab a graphic novel. Each age category tends to have a unique approach, and it might help freshen your understanding of your genre. If you’re super unsure, see if any of your favorite writers write in different age categories. Ex. Victoria Schwab writes YA and adult fantasy.

3. Try a new genre completely

Yes, you’re supposed to write what you read, but seriously, reading other genres is just as important. Pick up a contemporary book. Browse some poetry. Reach into the great unknown. Honestly, this option is the one that helps me the most.

I’ve recently been reading more—*gasp*—contemporary, like Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. (Both highly recommended by the way). And, honestly, I wish I started reading them earlier this year. I wasn’t paying attention to how burnt out I was getting—how much reading and writing only fantasy was drowning my creativity and enjoyment—but these books quickly pulled me out of a slump once I started them. I’ve even been able to read fantasy again—and sure enough, after a little break, I started loving each story.

Basically, the point of this post is to remind writers that, yes, while you should always be reading what you write, you should also make time to read genres and age categories that you don’t write. Why? Because it expands your pallet. It resets your writing gears. It resets everything.

And it’s fun.

~SAT

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#SATurdate: Cassandra Clare, Content Disclosure, and Lemon Cookies

19 Mar

I met Cassandra Clare this week! She is definitely one of my favorite YA writers, so I jumped at the opportunity to meet her. We even geeked out over Twitter before the event, and I had two books signed by her. She is super sweet, and I definitely recommend attending her events if she comes close to your town!

What I’m Writing:

I’m 59,000 words into Take Me Yesterday…which means I’m officially in the last act, and I’ll tell you what, book two is much more twisted than book one (not that anyone has the chance to read book one…but I promise I’ll let you know when I start pursuing publication on The Tomo Trilogy. Right now, I’m focused on getting Bad Bloods out there.) That being said, this sequel is one of those books that I have to keep pushing myself away from my desk and reminding myself that I’m not psychotic…right? I’m particularly loving the new setting in this book, the new characters—especially the focus on female characters—and Sophia’s change in emotional state. But that’s all I’ll say for now.

What I’m Publishing:

Interior

Interior

I received the complete interior design for Bad Bloods: November Rain, and Bogart reviewed it thoroughly. We are both in love. If you read the sneak peek of Chapter Two, then you saw the first chapter from Daniel’s POV. We see him with Old Man Gregory, a man who owns the convenience store, which also serves as an illegal bar (the one I talked about in the content disclosure). Fun fact, I named Old Man Gregory after my older brother Gregory, but the two are nothing alike…even though he would be an old man in 2089. Like 101 years old.

We also received the content disclosure for November Rain, so I thought you’d like to know our rankings. If you need a handy guide about what these rankings mean, click here to read more details about November Rain’s disclosure.

First off, November Rain was rated YA(m) – Young Adult Mature – which means it’s written for a mature young adult audience.

Violence: 5: Um. No surprise here. Bad Bloods is a fairly violent duology, revolving around a political debate eradicating an entire group of people, which mainly consists of homeless children…but I promise you, the violence is not as graphic as the original book? Okay. That’s not saying much. But there is meaning behind it. The violence isn’t gratuitous.

1618672_1003118153068699_7248825728918056648_nRomance: 1: I promise, there is romance in this duology, although it’s more “intimacy” than lust, and the reason for that becomes pretty clear within the first two chapters.

Language: 3: Shit. That’s all I have to say.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: 3: There is an illegal bar the main character attends for supplies, but he himself doesn’t drink. That being said, Diet Coke plays a major role in Bad Bloods as a type of drug, but I think I’ll leave that up for a surprise.

In other publishing news, I updated my author bio, which now includes my obsessions for rooftops, cookies, and murder shows.

This weeks’ #1lineWed preview was “now,” so here is this week’s preview: Her once moonlit eyes were now the dark sides of the moon.

In Bad Bloods, the moon and stars are very symbolic. The children, for one, are homeless, so many of them lived under the sky, and even when they form flocks, they travel at night, so the stars and moon are often the only light they see. Because of this, the symbolism becomes very nature-focused, including…you know…rain and snow. So, you can expect a lot of comparisons to nature throughout the duology.

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:

1934484_1001844639862717_1406521969915192150_nI finished Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, and of course, I gave it 5 Shadowhunter stars. You can read my full 5-star review here. Don’t worry, it’s spoiler free (including spoilers from The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, both of which I highly recommend you read before reading The Dark Artifices.) My favorite quote? And if there were two things he believed were limitless, it was love and imagination.

I also began The Young Elites by Marie Lu, and even though I’m about ten pages in, I love it!

What I’m Listening To:

Gooey by Glass Animals. It will not get out of my head. (Not that I want it to leave either.)

What I’m Watching:

It all started with a little research…and then, I found the perfect murder…and then I found a TV show that talked about said perfect murder…and then I was binge-watching Murder Maps. These things happen.

On a not-so-light note, I also watched The Hunting Ground, the Oscar-Nominated documentary about sexual assault on college campuses. I could say so many things about this documentary, but I think time is better spent if you take an hour out of your day to watch it. That being said, I am a graduate of one of the universities under investigation for Title IX, and I can say that I am not surprised they are under investigation. This is an epidemic for men and women, and I hope the country as a whole can come together to address this issue in a productive way that prevents sexual assault from continuing for future students.

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

Mango lassi and cream cheese lemon glazed cookies! I also made dark chocolate chip cookies this week too. (I really like my cookies.)

 What I’m Wearing:

Green, for St. Patty’s Day!

What I’m Wanting:

12240913_1000277113352803_4970759992132676648_oHonestly, I want more of those lemon cookies. I already ate them all.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I was a magical general of 13 magical warriors, and we were fighting 13 other magical warriors. (Okay. This is where if I turn a dream into a book I would add more detail, so magical warrior will have to do.) That was when my best warrior went missing for 3 days, and on return, he asked to go on a walk with me. Of course I said yes, because he was my best warrior…and also, he was quite handsome. But he had been brain-washed! And he set me up to get kidnapped…so I was kidnapped by the other warriors, and they sedated me while they were waiting for their general to arrive (to kill me, I assume). But 3 days passed, and one of my warriors showed up to see if I had been kidnapped. Of course they denied it, but I tore out of the sedation long enough to crawl on my hands and knees to get to him. He tossed me Chapstick, but in this world, you ate the Chapstick to get special energy, and upon eating it, I sprang to my feet and ran…right into a shopping mall. (Sorry, my dreams are strange.) In this shopping mall, the cops were standing all around the escalators, talking about how I was most likely to escape there…and I ran right past them laughing! Of course they chased me, but I’d already vaulted over the fountain and headed for my main exit—the women’s restroom. (Fun fact, I’ve had this part of the dream before, and the women’s restroom worked, but this time…) A NO EXIT sign was plastered on the door, and a man was trying to push through it but couldn’t. I didn’t let it stop me. I laughed and went into the men’s restroom…where the exact same exit waited, and then I woke up in real life. I also had a dinosaur nightmare this week…but those are too traumatic to write about.

What Else Is Going On:

As many of you saw at the end of my last article, this was the week that my mom died thirteen years ago. (Thirteen years, that blows my mind.) Spring Break, for many, is a time of vacations and beaches (or snowboarding), and getting drunk on St. Patty’s Day, but Spring Break, particularly March 16, is a reminder of my mother’s sudden death and everything I’ve done since that life-changing moment. I promised myself back then that I would strive to follow my dreams, and I still am. I can only hope that I will continue to keep my promise, and I promise to try my best every day.

Thanks for taking the journey with me,

~SAT

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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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#MondayBlogs All You Need (as a writer)

14 Dec

Intro:

Being a writer isn’t a decision for many. You just are. Still, it takes a lot to decide to be true to you and your work. Today’s guest blogger knows this lesson all too well. Ken Hughes, an urban fantasy author, discusses the truth behind what it takes to be an author—and how to stick with it.

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

All You Need (as a writer) by Ken Hughes

ken.jpegWhen I wake up, I step outside and leap hundreds of feet up to float above the city.

–Alright, it’s my character who does that. But I’m the one who gets to capture the sensation of Mark kicking away from gravity, hanging in the night sky, and staring around for a certain suspicious owl that might glide out of the moonlight above.

And it can be frightening… just how much I love that storytelling. But I think I’m starting to understand, how that passion is the best key there is to living as a writer.

As a career, writing is its own special kind of hard. Half the people you meet they’re working on a book, but nobody can help you in the trenches. It means

  • discipline – to keep at it for years and years in the hope that something gets better
  • choices – every scene, in fact every word, is your responsibility
  • doubt – never being sure you’ve gotten the tale to the level you want
  • and the twist: after all that time locking yourself in the basement, you have to come outside and SELL total strangers on your work. Seriously?

But what I think is, it all needs to come from the joy of the right story.

Because of one key:

“I only write what I can love.”

Prison or Prize?

Let’s accept one thing: writing is not an easy way to make your fortune, or even your fame.

Sure, there are plenty of comfortably-paid writers in the world, especially in the digital age. But If your goal is really to combine “cool stuff about what I read” with leaving your day job or having a boatload of eager fans, the time it takes to write one novel (long before you know what you’re doing) can get you on your way to making a world-class blog, a dozen clever apps, or an FX apprenticeship where you can get your fingertips onto making the magic happen. If that’s what you want, for cat’s sake follow that dream!

Writing is the way to chase those thrills where you have to reinvent everything, word for word, in many ways from scratch. (Not in all ways, luckily.) So if you write, it should be because you don’t just love spy stories, you love deciding how your spy scouts an area and the exact moment her lips quirk into a smile.

And… there is no secret, no plan or key that can change how a writer needs to spend hundreds of hours simply writing. All with no help, no shortcuts, doing nothing except putting the next word down. To many people, that sounds like a prison sentence, and it’s meaningless if it isn’t lifelong.

But that works both ways:

If you know your story is the exact kind of “leap to the sky” that you want to be writing, those hours become something very different. They mean that for the rest of your life, any time that isn’t locked down paying bills or doing laundry can go right back to writing in your own world—and nothing can take that away. All you need is a notepad and five minutes (thirty seconds if it’s jotting down a sudden idea) to get back to your happy place. It’s an exhilarating discovery.

And, it’s the best way to make the story better.

At least, it is if you’ve made that place your own.

Defining Your Bliss

We all come into writing through other writers and other stories. Since that’s what first inspires us, it makes a certain sense that it might also be the source of a few of our problems. That is, if we to learn too much of the wrong lesson from one of our heroes.

I can’t get enough of Brandon Sanderson’s sprawling worlds or Joss Whedon’s talent for maintaining a whole roster of Avengers… but I don’t want to write that crowded a story. I’d kill to produce one page as poetic as Patrick Rothfuss’s, but it’s not what my tales are about.

If you love witty dialog—write that. Learn what makes it sparkle, how to pick and choose so you aren’t just copying one writer’s style, and keep writing that. Learn to get all that annoying description out of the way with just enough to do the job, or maybe the right touches to make your banter even better. And then you know that every day, what you have waiting for you is a chance to write more wit.

If you want the ultimate romantic lead, go for it. Work out what makes him/her perfect for your protagonist… and just what kind of stylized or silly or traumatic conflict to play off of that to turn it into a STORY worth sweating over. All the rest of the tale is only a basic foundation for that.

Myself, the more I understand how much I savor the sheer suspense of pushing Mark and Angie to the brink in a fight or a round of cat and mouse, the more I look forward to the next chance I get to write. And the better my scenes get.

Discipline? The next struggle in the book calls to me to get in there and write it. In fact, each time I sit down and discover that, yes, what I’ve got waiting is another glorious twist on how my poor heroes have to master their magic, the easier it is to trust that the next session will be playing to my strengths too. (Which is what “discipline” really means: not pushing through resistance but training yourself until the right action becomes the natural one.)

Choices? Because I can put my finger on what I want to write, I can test and study what makes good suspense and how many other pieces a story needs to make that work. Plus it means I can track one of Sanderson’s brilliant battles or the terror in The Blair Witch Project and call it “research.”

Doubt? There’s always further I can go, but at least I know what I’m trying to do, and how good I’ve already gotten at it. And, bouncing my work off of writers and readers means I’m hearing from people who have the same love of a good magical thrill.

Even the writer’s great Introversion/Promotion Paradox turns out to be not so different from the rest of the process: it’s still learning to zero in on what sets me on fire. After all my years locked in with my books I never thought “marketing” and “networking” could be words I’d want to be in the same room with, but it’s true. All I need is to pick which piece of adventurous awesomeness to mention first, and let my excitement show. (And like every other aspect of writing, learn a few other basics to support them—but really only a few.)

In fact, the two top pieces of advice I’ve found about a writing career are, “write better” and “write more.” Tapping into my own excitement is the best—almost the only—way to put more time into writing, and that time plus my clearer focus and related studies are just the thing to raise my game. (Bonus: there’s a word for a writer’s sense of just which kind of fun we write and share: that much-sought-after thing called a “brand.” Sometimes everything falls into place.)

Writing isn’t for everyone. But if it is for you, and you find the kind of writing you can commit to, those hours and years of work can become kind of experience you need them to be. There’s a good chance some day you’ll have people lining up to share your own kind of excitement. And yes, you might enjoy it as much as the scribbling.

But, your fans will still understand when you have to step away again. Just tell them you have to get back to sending your hero onto his next leap to the sky.

–Ken Hughes

ken2Author Bio:

Ken Hughes is a writer on a mission to hone the sharpest suspense, most gripping adventure, and most desperately human heroes in urban fantasy. For a peek at what he’s doing and why, take a look at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

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

~SAT

September’s Ketchup

30 Sep

September’s Ketchup

And here we are, at the end of September, at the beginning of fall. So much happened this month, the main event being the release of Death Before Daylight, but this post will highlight so much more, just in case you missed it.

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up”. At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at ShannonAThompson.com. Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this September!

Big Moments:

I had my three-year blogiversary, which is crazy surreal, and Death Before Daylight released. Finally. I still can’t quite believe it, but I am super happy that The Timely Death Trilogy finally had a chance to release in full for all the Dark readers out there. On top of that, we had a lot of fun during the Seconds Before Sunrise blog tour. If you missed those interviews, guest posts, and features, they are all listed below. And since we’ve talk about two of the three novels in the trilogy, Minutes Before Sunset hit #12 in overall Free Kindle Store, and it became #1 in science fiction, paranormal, and urban fantasy! (It’s still free, too.)

On top of that, you all pushed the sequel, Seconds Before Sunrise, into the top 100 of all its categories, including young adult, science fiction, paranormal, and urban fantasy. Death Before Daylight, book 3, hit the top 100 of paranormal books too. I cannot thank you enough.

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Thanks for reading, lovelies. I’ll be signing books next month on October 21 at Headrush Roasters Coffee and Tea in Kansas City, Missouri.

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

Come out and see me!

Stay Dark,

~SAT

 

Top Three Blog Posts:

  1. Deciding to Change my Writing Plan: Marketing and choosing how to market is vital for an author’s business plan. I talk about how I know when to change mine and how to stick with a new route to reach success.
  2. Book Release: Death Before Daylight: Death Before Daylight released, and it was tons of fun! Thanks for reading!
  3. Cartoons Make You a Better Writer Written by author Grant Goodman, this piece channels your inner cartoon lover to be a better writer.
#1 SEO Term was Andrew Vogel from Under the Dome. Here he is reading Minutes Before Sunset's 1st edition.

#1 SEO Term was Andrew Vogel from Under the Dome. Here he is reading Minutes Before Sunset’s 1st edition.

Other Blog Posts:

Things to do when Suffering from Writer’s Block by C.S. Wilde: A great guest post every writer can use when sufferer from dreaded writer’s block.

Three-Year Blogging Anniversary: I’ve been blogging for three years! This is how it changed my life.

Stopping Guest Posts and New Line-Up: I’m changing ShannonAThompson.com

The Prose Poem by Ann Howells: A guest post by a great poet about poetry.

Writing in Limbo: Between books I take a break to plan.

Book Releases Explained by Sailor Moon: A great reader asked me to explain all the emotions behind a book release. Sailor Moon is my spirit animal, so I used her to express myself.

Writing Update: Take Me Yesterday: I’m currently writing in the second novel of The Tomo Trilogy.

The Sting of Book Release Day: Release days can be fun but also frightening.

Website Wonders: Monthly classic

Guest Posts:

#1 Referrer was WordPress' Reader

#1 Referrer was WordPress’ Reader

Not Just Another Romance: On Mythical Books I wrote about why The Timely Death Trilogy isn’t just another romance, but I mainly focused on how nothing really is.

Favorite Book Covers and Why On LuLo Fangirl I wrote about my favorite book covers and how it affects my reading.

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you want to be one of these websites, feel free to join my newsletter or email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! I will also share your post on all of my websites.

Reviewers:

Seconds Before Sunrise: Young Adult Book Madness, Black Words-White Pages, Endless Reading, Books for Thought, Crazy Beautiful, and Fic Gal

Death Before Daylight: The Examiner, Tamara Morning

Interviews: Kelly P’s Blog, Books for Thought, Blacks Words, White Pages

Features: CTP Death Before Daylight Release Party, Forget the Housework, I’m Reading, Dowie’s Place, Happily Ever After Seekers Book Club, One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads, Waiting On Wednesday, Just AmyShelfbuzz.

Calculated on September 26 at 19,887 followers

Calculated on September 26 at 19,887 followers

Website Wonders

28 Sep

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of September’s Website Wonders categorized into Reading and Writing and Publishing. (Nothing crazy this month, but these articles are AWESOME.)

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.

Enjoy!

Writing and Publishing:

Why Are Readers Punishing Authors for Free Books? By Nerd Girl  I loved this. As a book reviewer myself, I’ve been startled to see the increase in comments about free books being “evil” in its intent.

Can a Novelist Be Too Productive?: “No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”

Top 3 Reasons Censoring Your Writing is Holding You Back: There will be cursing today. Run away if that bothers you. I don’t mind.

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Reading:

A Literary Landscape of Ireland: This was sent to me by the creator, but it’s seriously cool.

20 Soul-Stirring Passages From Shinji Moon’s Poetry That Are Hauntingly Beautiful “You were the one that I wanted to feel the earth rotate with.”

A List of 100 Books Everyone Should Read and fun checkmark list with it.

Tattoos only a book nerd could love: They are lovely.

And that’s all for September! More to come at the end of October. Next post is September’s Ketchup. See you then. 🙂

~SAT

After Minutes Before Sunset #12 in Overall Free Kindle, Seconds Before Sunrise hit the top 100 for Paranormal & Urban fantasy.

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Thank you for reading!

 

On October 19, the paperback of Death Before Daylight releases! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing.

It will be tons of fun!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#SATurday Three-Year Blogging Anniversary

26 Sep

So, wow. Yesterday was my three-year anniversary of blogging right here on www.ShannonAThompson.com.

Three years.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

The first photo I ever shared of myself on here with a similar one from today.

My first blog post was on September 25, 2012. I never realized how much my life would change once I started this blog. For instance, back then, I had just started my last year of college at the University of Kansas. I lived in a townhouse with two other girls, and my bedroom was painted a deep merlot red. Bogart was almost two years old. I wasn’t publishing at that time, but I was studying English, specifically poetry. I didn’t have a job that year, but I did have my eyes set on a couple of master’s degree opportunities and law school. I drove a manual, a silver RX-8. I was writing Take Me Tomorrow. I almost always wrote in a hookah house. My laptop’s name was Weebo. I was twenty-one years, three months, and two days old.

Since September 25, 2012, my life has changed irrevocably. Two weeks after starting my blog, one of my college roommates passed away. I moved back home. I was published. I graduated from KU with a bachelor’s degree in English, with an emphasis on creative writing. I was published again, and signed on with a publisher. I started working for a publisher. My car stopped working. My publisher shut down, and I lost my job. I moved to another state on my own. My bedroom is now baby blue, and I drive an automatic pickup now. I signed on with a new publisher, and I started my own company. Bogart just turned five, and I have two other cats in my life, Boo Boo and Kiki. I write in coffee houses now. My laptop’s name is Luna-P. I’m currently writing many things. I am twenty-four years, three months, and three days old.

Back then, I just wanted to have a place to share books, music, and movies. I never knew it would change my life forevthree yearser. I cannot explain how much blogging can change your life, but I guess I can share my story.

I’ve thought long and hard about what to say today, but I don’t feel like
there’s anything I can say to express my gratitude for these past 525 blog posts. Today is my 526th article. I’ve been on here 1,096 days. I’ve had over 72,000 unique visitors. I never thought my silly voice would ever be heard, let alone by that many people. I am humbled.

Thank you for giving me a place in the blogosphere that I can call home.

~SAT

Minutes Before Sunset hit #12 in overall Free Kindle yesterday! (Woot. Woot.) We were also a #1 Bestseller in YA Science Fiction and Paranormal and Urban Fantasy! Way to go! Stay Dark!

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#12 in overall Kindle!

Poster_Small_V - Book shop signingOn October 19, the paperback of Death Before Daylight releases! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing.  It will be tons of fun!

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

P.S. For all you Timely Death Trilogy fans, here’s a little Dark humor from comedian, Drew Ryan.

throwingshade

Why Genre Hopping is your best friend

27 May

Shannon, here, to announce our last guest blogger. That’s right. Our last. I will be back on May 29, but today is a wonderful day, because Ryan Attard – author of The Legacy Series – is sharing his thoughts on genre hopping, something we both feel very passionately about. Ryan has blogged on here before, so you might be familiar with him, but if you’re not, check out his website and podcast by clicking the links.

This is one of those subjects that gets a bad rep just for daring to go against the dogma, as established by . . . who knows who, and who knows where. Personally, I dislike rules and constraints of any sort – the reason I am an artist is because I wish to express myself in a free manner, and trying to limit art in any way shape or form makes that very difficult. After all most of what we consider rules are nothing more than guidelines that we misunderstood or took too literally.

Case in point is genre-hopping. For most old school authors this is a cardinal sin punishable by artistic death. I fail to see why. From a technical stand point it does make a shred of sense: if you’re just starting out and try writing fifteen different genres at one go your head will implode to the size of a jelly bean. Most likely you’ll end up with fifteen really good idea that are always ‘almost done’.

However I am addressing serious writers, ones who make a commitment (be it themselves or a slave driver – I mean, publisher) to finish their project. If you are that kind of writer then you and I have much to discuss. Genre hopping is your friend, but unlike marketing (who’s the jackass in the corner with the corny jokes) or editing (that anal guy who’s always correcting other), this guy is more like that erratic insane friend whom everyone keeps their distance from until you try engaging with him. And here’s why you should engage with this dude:

Anyone here ever get writer’s block? If your answer is yes, then join the club. Writer’s block is nothing more than your brain going “TAKE A FREAKIN’ BREAK, MAN!”

And how do you take breaks? You do something else, of course. See where I’m going with this? No?

Writing in multiple genres (let’s say 2 or 3, for kitten’s sakes; don’t overcompensate) means that when you get tired of writing, say, your urban fantasy novel, you can always go to your adventure thriller. You are still writing, so you are still productive – you’re just shifting focus. By way of an example I am going to use myself (and shamelessly plug myself in the process). When I was writing Birthright (coming to you in a few months) I was also writing Book 1 of the Pandora Chronicles (coming to you whenever my publisher decides to get a move on). If you’re of a similar mindset as myself, then you’ll easily get bored of the same old, same old. So switch it up – write something else.

And guess what? By the end of it all you won’t have ONE book but TWO. (That’s twice the fans and twice the money just in case you can’t get a hint.)

Now let’s talk marketing. Yeah, I said it: Marketing.

Don’t be afraid of it – it only looks evil. In reality marketing is what puts that story that you worked so hard for in your reader’s hands.

I’m going to get a little technical but stay with me. There are two types of growth in a business: vertical and horizontal.

Vertical growth is when you grow within a level – sort of like building an apartment complex. You get one apartment on top of the other. Horizontal growth is when you build the same ground floor but in different areas.

Let’s translate this into writing markets. Authors usually pick one market and write for that, i.e. JK Rowling is very famous on the fantasy genre for writing the Harry Potter series. That’s a perfect example of vertical growth.

It’s also the easiest in terms of branding. Think about it; it’s easy to establish yourself in one market if you are dedicating all your efforts to that one market. So you get Rowling with fantasy, Keri Arthur with fantasy romance, Rick Riodan with YA mythology-based urban fantasy and Clive Cussler with adventure thrillers. You genre becomes your branding and once this happens it’s nearly impossible to shift to another genre. How many of you can tell me the name of Rowling’s new book? I bet you had to look it up.

For most established (and old-school) writers, genre hopping after you’ve established yourself in a particular market is suicide. It’s like having HP Lovecraft write a historical romance about daisy-picking: that just won’t do (not unless something with teeth and tentacles was involved).

bdedebgfSo does this mean that horizontal growth is better? Not in the least. But it can be smarter if done at the right place, at the right time. Let’s take Jim Butcher as an example. Jim had just begun making a name for himself in the Urban Fantasy market when he released his epic-ish fantasy series. And in recent years, he also released a steampunk series. So why wasn’t the community in uproar? Because he timed it well. He established himself as a multi-genre author whilst growing vertically in his main market, allowing him to expand in multiple genres (markets) at the same time.

One of my favourite podcasts to listen to is the Self-Publishing Podcast. The three hosts, Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant and David Wright, are in full favour of genre-hopping and horizontal growth. According to them (and I fully agree) it wiser to build horizontally and then grow vertically rather than the other way round. To prove their point, they have multiple serials in multiple genres, and only in the past two years have they fully built each and every one of them. Now their library of titles is well over a dozen and that’s what you want as an author.

The idea of a one-hit wonder is not a viable career option. Writing professionally is a hard job: one that requires constant work at improvement and getting more titles out there.

Once again you have to be smart with genre-hopping. Writing in 4 different markets is not the best of ideas. Start with one, and then expand to an adjacent market. That way you get overlap value.

Let’s say you wrote a book for market 1 and later on wrote another book for market 2. When you decide to write another book for market 1, you won’t only get people from that market but also a few from market 2 who are just curious about your work. Those are your true fans.

In my opinion this is one of the best strategies you can use to sustain a long term career. Sure it’ll take you five years instead of two to fully stabilize your roots, but once you do, it’ll be very hard for you not to make it. If you’re concerned with name branding, just use a pen name of an abbreviation like Johanna Penn does. Same author, different pen name, different market; problem solved.

The worst thing that can happen to an established author is to finish their series and then sit on their ass twirling their thumbs. However, when you’ve spread your roots on a wide area, you can always wrap something up and move on to the next project.

After all a writer writes – period. Genre, word count, language – these are all frosting to a cake. So if it doesn’t matter, why bother with it? You’re a writer and an artist. Write what you want to write, in whichever way you want to write it, and power to ya, baby.

– Ryan Attard

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