Tag Archives: writer problems

Authors Who Give Up

14 Oct

As writers, we discuss lots of ups and downs. Writer’s block, in particular. But what about something stronger than writer’s block?

What about feeling like you want to give up?

“Giving up” is hard to define. Quite frankly, the definition will be different for every writer. One author might feel like giving up writing altogether, while another writer might only want to give up pursuing publication. These two versions of “giving up” are very different, but could appear similar to those on the outside.

This is why defining what you want to “give up” is important.

By considering what, exactly, you are giving up, you might realize what is actually making you so miserable.

For instance, I’ve talked to a lot of authors who feel like giving up because marketing is so difficult, or getting an agent feels impossible, or self-publishing is too expensive. But all of these issues have solutions that don’t involve giving up everything. If marketing is difficult, reevaluate what and where you’re marketing. Consider posting less. (Your readers will understand, trust me.) If querying agents/publishers is putting you down, slide that goal aside for a while. Write something new instead. If self-publishing is too expensive, save up or consider options like Patreon. This list goes on and on. Many writing issues that cause the “giving up” bug have solutions. Sometimes stepping away and taking a break will help clear your mind so you can sort things out.

But what about actually wanting to give up writing?

Who knows what caused it. Maybe it was one major disappointment that took place on one horrible afternoon. Maybe it was a million disappointments all compounded together over time. Either way, feeling like you want to give up is valid. It’s okay. And if you choose to give up, that’s okay, too. One of my recent writer friends actually took this path—not because they couldn’t handle the stress of a writing career, but because they no longer felt joy while writing their last two books. Until they get that joy back, they don’t want to write anymore. That is their choice.

I know I won’t give up. Not right now. Not any time soon. Hopefully, never. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt this way sometimes. It happens every now and then—more than I’d like to admit—but many authors have felt this way, and we either overcome it, or we move on to a new dream.

In the end, I will never judge an author for shelving their manuscripts. It’s their life. I will support their decision to leave, and I will welcome them back with open arms—both as a reader and a fellow writer—if they ever choose to return.

Just because a writer gives up on writing, doesn’t mean the community has to give up on the writer. 

But I hope no one gives up on their dreams,

~SAT

P.S. My first audiobook is going on tour! You can listen to free review copies and interview the narrator and me by signing up here.

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The Ideal Writing Pace

19 Jun

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

So how long should it take to write your book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find your writing pace, and enjoy your journey.

~SAT

#WW Help! My Female Character Is Flat

14 Sep

I’m guilty! Oh, so guilty.

While writing my latest manuscript for my publisher, I hit a snag 38,000 words in, and could not—for the life of me—figure out what was wrong with it. Then, I realized what happened.

My female protagonist was flat.

Allow me to back track for a little bit.

I never used to have this problem. When I first set out to write books, I honestly feel like I was a better writer than I am now. At least, in regards to the first draft. I would simply let my work be what it needed to be. Now, I’m bombarded with so many rules and expectations (some awesome, some not-so-awesome) that I end up worrying about what I should be writing instead of worrying about what my book actually is, who my characters truly are, and how things will happen naturally.

Example? Well, let’s go back to where I started. My flat female character. Why was she flat? Because she wasn’t flawed. So, why wasn’t she flawed? Because I was afraid. I kept thinking about all the things readers want (and don’t want) a female character to be. Tough but not too tough. Girly but not too girly. A good friend, a completely independent lover, a strong-minded leader, a determined dreamer, and someone who never faints from total exhaustion from all that perfect-ness.

I take issue with too much expectation, especially in young adult fiction where characters are coming of age and still trying to figure out who they are, what they want, and how they’re going to achieve it. But I get it. I do. As a reader myself, I know readers are harder on female characters, because the world is harder on females in general. I have my moments, too! It’s ingrained into us, after all. But I hadn’t realized how much it was affecting books until my paranormal romance trilogy released last year. Spoiler warning now, I was shocked that my male protagonist could take a two-ton car, throw a hissy fit, and crash it at 100 mph without so much as a blink of judgment, while my female character was called all kinds of nasty names because she went underage drinking with her friends and got into some trouble. Personally, I think his choice was much more destructive considering how he could’ve killed someone else—or an entire car full of innocent people—while her reckless decision really only put herself in danger. (And she was with friends she should’ve been able to trust.) All that aside, though, only one of them was judged. And she was judged harshly. (Shameless plug: I’m talking about Seconds Before Sunrise.)

As much as I wish I could say this didn’t affect me, I think it did.

Now, when I approach my female characters, I’m hesitant to let them make any mistakes at all. I’m afraid to let them cry (because they’ll be deemed whiny), but I never hesitate to let my male characters cry (because when they cry, they are somehow seen as deep and approachable and need to be comforted).

It’s extremely frustrating, because I am also a female, and I know these judgments extend far beyond the pages of my books. It’s also why I fight my own fears to keep my female characters round. In a world that is constantly trying to flatten female characters, I will fight to keep them round. I will even fight myself—my own misconceptions and…well, flaws.

Before, I held myself back, and therefore, I held my female character back, and I apologize for that.

She is not someone I should hold back. She is strong and weak and happy and sad. She’s dealing with trauma and dreaming about the future and falling in and out of what she thinks might be love (but she isn’t sure), and she is reckless for all kinds of reasons. She also cares deeply about those around her…and sometimes she forgets to care about herself, too. But she will do her best and she will make mistakes, and the combination of both is what matters, because that is who she is.

I will not worry whether or not readers will hate or love or judge her, because she is her, and that is who she is supposed to be. And this is her story to tell, not mine.

~SAT

#MondayBlogs Confessions of a Slow Writer

9 May

I’m a slow writer. There. I said it. I’m a slow writer. (Just for extra measure.)

You see, I used to think I was a fast writer. “I can write a manuscript in two months,” “I wrote that novella in a few days,” “That short story took me an hour.”

Okay. So, I’ve never actually said the last two, but they sound similar to the first one…which I have said. And it isn’t a complete lie. My average speed for writing a manuscript is three months. Ish. But, what I don’t say, what I can’t deny to myself, is that manuscript is not truly written at all. It’s not even close to written. It’s a jargled mess of incomprehensible crap. (And I’m being nice when I say that.)

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My first drafts might take me three months, but that’s exactly what they are: first drafts. I almost ALWAYS rewrite my novels two or three times. In fact, I just finished one I’ve been working on since I was 19. That’s five years in the making, almost six. To some, the writing process – about one month – seemed ridiculously fast, but in all honestly, I already had 62,000 words written, and while most of it changes, the world was previously built, the characters were already made, and the overall plot was ready to go. That being said, something about the manuscript was not quite right, so it was rewrite after rewrite, year after year. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay that I just figured it out, that I JUST finished the draft that will move into the editing stages. Some might say I should’ve abandoned it, moved on, or simply turned it in as is, but you know what? That’s not me. And I like being me, ten rewrites and all. It might have taken me five years to figure it all out, but I finally feel like this manuscript’s draft is the one I can be truly proud of.

I’ve learned to accept I go through many phases while writing a novel. It normally starts with a dream, moves into an out-of-order screenplay, then an in-order screenplay, then a first draft, then a second draft, then a third and fourth draft, and then, it’s done!

That, for me, is when my novel is born. Finally. And more often than not, a few years pass between the initial idea and the collection of words sent off to my editor. I’m okay with that. I am. But don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t always okay with that.

There is a lot of pressure in the industry to be a “fast” writer, to release a new novel every few months, to use less curse words, to have more sex, to avoid clichés, or add romance. There is pressure everywhere—sometimes conflicting pressure—but I think it’s more important to not break under that pressure. I believe it’s important to be you and to be the best you that you can be.

Stand your ground. Be yourself. Write slowly.

Original posted August 22, 2015

~SAT

You can officially sign up for Bad Bloods Book Blitz through Xpresso Book Tours! I hope you’ll sign up to support this little author out. (You might also win some awesome prizes while you’re at it!)

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wattpadMicheleAlso, the next short story in the Bad Bloods Prequel released on Wattpad! If you didn’t get a chance to read it, check out Michele’s story today. Who is Michele? Well, in Bad Bloods, she’s the “mother” figure of the Northern Flock, but in the prequel, she’s just a kid. A kid with a gift. And her prequel story actually shows up in November Snow, so reading her story will give you more details when you read the novels this July….which brings me to my next point.

If you want to find out what happens to Calhoun, Daniel, Adam, and Michele – the four characters so far discussed in the Bad Bloods prequel – you can pre-order both Bad Bloods books today! 

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

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#MondayBlogs The Worst Thing A Reader Ever Said To Me

2 May

I can admit the worst thing a reader ever wrote to me. It was 2007, I was 16, my publisher at the time had released my first novel, and Honesty Box was the hottest app on Facebook. My high school self was naïve enough to have one of these, and one day, I found myself staring at this. Message:

“You are the bastardization of the English language.”

honesty-boxI’ve tried not to think about this message often. In fact, I confess I’ve tried to completely cut it out of my memory—especially since I think it had more to do with high school bullying than anything notable—but the most common type of bullying I faced for writing a book in high school followed this script:

A fellow student would say, “Go write a book.”

Normally, I never responded, but sometimes I snapped and stupidly said, “I already did.”

Which almost always got, “Now, go write a good one.”

Perhaps, this affected me more than I would like to admit. A few months later, when I ran into issues with my publisher, I didn’t fight it much, and in turn, my book was taken off of the market. I can’t say I minded much. I think I was a little relieved. That’s probably why seven years passed between my first and second publication. Now that I’m 24, my coping skills have definitely grown.

Writers always get responses—both good and bad—and some days are more uplifting than others. Some days are even downright hilarious. Not in the mocking way, of course, but in the this-reader-could-be-my-best-friend sort of way. Some days, readers make your day, and other days, a reader’s comment inspires your next piece of work. Sometimes, they teach you by pointing out levels of confusion or confliction, and other times, they talk about how your work taught them something about life. The combination is a beautiful thing.

I have plenty of stories I wish I could tell you about all of the wonderful readers who have reviewed my novels, shared quotes, tweeted encouraging messages, and sent me an email just to explain their emotions, but the important part is how the uplifting readers always overcome the negative ones. I could share hundreds, but I would like to share a few to show types:

The Encouraging Reader

12657850_982614665119048_4239343172506995978_oMeagan from The Book Forums recently read an exclusive sneak peek of my upcoming duology, Bad Bloods, and she took the time to e-mail an encouraging message about how excited she is about November Rain and November Snow. I cannot begin to explain how much these moments mean to me. Releasing work—no matter how many times you’ve done it—is nerve-wracking, and in the end, all we want to do is release a story readers will enjoy. To hear they enjoyed it, is priceless. To connect and talk to readers as friends is the best part of the gig. Joking about my own work with someone is surreal. The friendship between a reader and an author is unlike any other type of friendship I’ve ever had, but it brings me just as much love, comfort, and joy.

The Confused Reader That Brings Laughter To My Laugh:

I want to clarify that this is not condescending laughter. This is more like a friend, even if the reader never knows it. I actually enjoy moments where readers have pointed out confusion or mislabeled something because it’s often something I (and many editors) overlooked. My favorite example came from numerous readers over Take Me Tomorrow. (I know. I know. That book isn’t available any longer, but I promise I’m working on it!) This reader story is still priceless. A few readers have compared the dictator, Wheston Phelps to Michael Phelps—the Olympic swimmer—instead of who I intended—Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church—and I’ve had a great giggle over that image-switch. If you’re one of the readers who thought of Michael Phelps instead of Fred, please don’t worry! I had a great giggle, and I feel like it’s more of an inside joke than anything else. Also, more people thought of Michael than Fred. (A handshake goes out to Just Another Girl and Her Books who pointed out many topics, including Fred Phelps, that went overlooked in Take Me Tomorrow. If you’re curious what the sequels might show, this review definitely foreshadows a lot of it. And, of course, Take Me Yesterday is complete. I plan on editing it and then working on Take Me Never ASAP.)

The Critical Reader

Of course, sometimes the negative can help me take a step back and laugh at myself. In fact, these have begun to remind me of my initial editing process. The clearest example I can think of was when my first editor for Seconds Before Sunrise was going through the first chapter and saw, “Robb grabbed his plaid sh*t” instead of his shirt. Yep. That editing mistake happened. That’s embarrassing. And—trust me—I will never, EVER make that mistake again. Every time I write the word shirt I will cringe. (And then, I will laugh uncontrollably). Thank the publishing gods it was caught during the editing process.

Me as a Reader

I am a reader, too, and while I’m not everyone’s reader, my day is made when I tweet to an author and they actually tweet back to me. This recently happened to me with one of my all-time favorite authors, Cassandra Clare. We even spoke about it person when I went to event later that week. My life was complete. No matter how many readers authors come in contact with, I think we find ourselves in their reviews, but more importantly, we connect with friends.

cassandra

To think that I might be able to bring joy to a reader in the way Cassandra Clare brought joy to me, fills me with a lot of hope and understanding that I didn’t have when I was 16.

I am very grateful for all the readers who have helped me grow since then, and I continue to love my readers more than anything else. It’s also nice to have reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead of Honesty Box.

Original posted February 18, 2015

~SAT

Pre-Order Bad Bloods today!

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#WW The Emotions of Finishing a Novel

6 Apr

Recently, I finished the first draft of a novel. Granted, any novelist already knows that means the novel isn’t truly finished, but alas, finishing that first draft is the first hurdle to novel freedom. There are a lot of emotions that come along with that moment. Even if it is the tenth novel you’ve written, it never gets old. These were my emotions.

When You Hit The Last Chapter

Oh, god. I’m about to complete this thing. Like, this thing is actually going to be done. Not done, done. But done enough for now-done. For at least a month done. Then, I have to edit. Wait. Focus. You’re not done yet. Finish before you worry about editing.

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When You Hit The Last Sentence

And then all the characters were dead. Just kidding. *Deletes* (Insert heart-warming or gut-wrenching completion or cliffhanger.) Yep. That was sad. I’m a genius. (A genius who’s going to probably rewrite this line a billion and one times during the editing process.)

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When You Type The End

I’m delighted!

It’s complete!

All my hard work and here I am!

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When It Actually Hits You

Wait. It’s complete. Now what?

Panic. (Of course.)

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When You Focus

Time to make phone calls. Time to round up the team. Time to tell them we’re past the first hurdle and now it’s full speed ahead. Everyone is excited, but most likely to remind you to take a moment to breathe. This clearly means it’s time to celebrate.

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When You Celebrate

Dance party! This is best done to the soundtrack you wrote the novel to. Because, let’s be honest, you’re not going to want to listen to those songs for a LONG time. You might as well enjoy them now.

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 When You Calm Down

Okay. You’re not much of a dancer anyway (even though you did write that killer dance scene in the book you just finished). Let’s go do something more reasonable. Something less dangerous. Like eat potatoes. Or order a reward for your accomplishment. A new coffee mug will do.

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And Finally…When You Can Take a Break…Before You Work Again

We all know this is just a single step in a very complicated, often grueling (but also fun) process in an equally as long and complicated journey. Rewrites and edits and beta readers and query letters and publishers and formatters and cover artists all come into play. There are a million things to do and probably a million more ideas already itching to come out of your fingertips and onto the keyboard. But don’t forget to enjoy these little moments. Take a step back and reward yourself for all of your hard work. And, when you return, burn up that keyboard again. The next novel is waiting.

~SAT

#AuthorinaCoffeeShop Episode 14 starts this Thursday at 7 PM (CDT) via Twitter’s @AuthorSAT. What is #AuthorinaCoffeeShop? It’s just how it sounds. I sit in a coffee shop, people watch, and tweet out my writer thoughts, all while talking to you. I hope to see you there!

Clean Teen Publishing is giving away $120 worth of prizes! Do you hate long car rides and traffic? Are you tired of the same old cleaning the house routine? Do you find yourself wishing you had more time to read? If so, then we have the answer for you: LISTEN TO FICTION! That’s right. Audio books. Enter the Listen to Fiction Giveaway by clicking the link.

Audio-Book-Giveaway

12967952_1019564618090719_8181243134796822980_oIf 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. Feel free to send me a picture of you reading, too! I’ll share it around, like this photo, from Tamara Grantham, who said:

“I’ve fallen in love with Shannon A. Thompson’s Minutes Before Sunset. The willow tree is a central symbol in the book. Oddly enough, I’ve got 4 beautiful willow trees in my backyard, so it’s only fitting that I took this picture amidst the branches.”

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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#WriterProblems 11-15

21 Mar

Recently, I spoke with a couple of fellow writers when we began discussing writer problems. I showed them my #WriterProblems series that I did almost a year ago, and then, I realized I never shared 10-15. I also realize many of you may not have seen the cards I made for writers back in the day, so you can read Writers Problems 1-5 and 6-10 by clicking the links. Below, I’m covering 11-15, and I hope you have as much fun with these as I do…even though they are writer problems. 😉

Writer Problems #11

Autocorrect. It Thinks It Knows Everything.  11154822_3124201782664_4775317025677171708_o

I have this problem ALL THE TIME, particularly while writing The Tomo Trilogy. One of my characters actually is named Miles, and my laptop—despite my attempts to change the settings—insists on lowercasing his name because it’s a noun (not a proper noun). Don’t even get me started on invented words and names.

Writer Problems #12

Getting Too Attached To Writing Utensils 12829300_3124202422680_364883757868105374_o

Maybe it’s just me, but I treat my pens as a writer the way most readers treat their books. I do not lend them out, because they rarely make their way back to me. (And I buy expensive pens.) I know many writers use laptops nowadays, but I write a lot of my novels by hand before I type them up, so there’s a certain amount of familiarity for me when it comes to pens. I might even get upset when I have to throw one away, because—well—it helped me write chapters 1 through 20 in my latest WIP.

Writer Problems #13

Searching For Character Names
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Picking the PERFECT name is hard enough. I mean, there is so much to consider. The background, the culture, the time period, the sound, or just the personality. Because of this, I am in love with surfing BabyNames.com. It’s one of my most visited websites. Even when I’m not writing something new, I’m browsing it, because who knows when I’ll need a new list of names to use? This has caused some interesting scenarios, including the one you see in my card. That actually happened while I was attending college. I was browsing BabyNames.com in between classes, and a girl stopped me to tell me congratulations. I gave her the strangest look (and actually replied “For what?”) She walked away like I was the strange one. It took me half a day to realize what transpired.

Writer Problems #14

Trying to Choose a Title 12823365_3124202542683_6786956300042952189_oTitling your work can be a difficult, maddening journey. Even though publishers often change titles, it’s nice to have a working one that feels complete or one that will catch an agent’s attention on a query letter. This issue is especially important for self-published authors, because, well, they literally have to choose it. Cue the madness. This could mean considering trends (like short titles when I made this or the longer, poetic titles now), or it could mean concentrating on symbols throughout your story. I actually wrote an article about this—Titling Your Novel—but the ironic part is that I wrote this article a LONG time ago, when Bad Bloods was called November Snow and when November Snow used to be called It’s Only a Matter of Time. (See? Those titles can get out of control.) I’ll have to rewrite that article soon.

Writer Problems #15

When The Coffee Runs Out wp15

Okay. So this card is a bit of an exaggeration, but…not really. It’s the symbolic version of what ACTUALLY happens in my head. I am a coffee addict, so without it, my writing brain wanders to places and scenarios and characters that have NOTHING to do with what I should be concentrating on. Hence the magical forest.

So how about you? What did these writer problems remind you of? Share your story below. Feel free to share and use these as well! On a side note, I could always continue to make these cards as well. Just let me know if that’s something you’d like!

~SAT

Cover

A little excerpt to start your week off:

“Do you think fate’s possible?” she asked, and I stiffened.

Fate was a reality, but it wasn’t a beautiful or angelic thing. It was a heart-wrenching nightmare. And we’d fallen blindly into it. We had no escape. It was happening, and it was up to me to guarantee our survival of it.

“Yes,” I said. “I think it’s very possible.”

She smiled and pulled me down to kiss me, even though I knew she wouldn’t if she understood the ramifications of it all. Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates, selfishly and without control.

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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