Tag Archives: young adult books

Writers and Vocabulary

9 Jan

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

The famous Stephen King said it, and so many more agree.

I vehemently say this to every writer I know. Why? Because it amazes me how many writers don’t read on a regular basis.

By reading, you’re expanding your creativity, your stories, your life, and even your vocabulary. And your vocabulary is vital.

Today, I wanted to concentrate on expanding your vocabulary and why it’s so important. I’ve sort of written about this before—Writing Tips: Build Your Vocabulary —where I discussed how you should not only read a lot, but pay attention while reading. This includes marking every word or phrase you come across that you’re unsure of, so that you can come back later to study them. I call this a vocabulary study guide.

books-writing-reading-sonja-langford

So what is my vocabulary study guide?

I create one every time I read a book. While reading, I circle words, and after I’m finished, I study them. This list includes words I don’t know, words that catch me off guard, words I know but forget to remember, and words I simply want to concentrate on more, maybe because they’re beautiful or strange or perfect for certain scenarios.

How do I organize it?

Personally, I categorize words by most likely subject. By feelings or people or places or, my personal favorite, body parts and other medical things. (Example from below? Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.) Sometimes, though, I organize my lists by words I need extra help on. In my below example for instance, I circled inscrutable FOUR times in the SAME book. (And this isn’t the first book I circled it in.) Why? I know this word. I do. But for some reason, whenever I’m reading or writing, my brain stumbles over it. I want, more than anything, for inscrutable to become natural to me.

So here is a literal example from my most recent read.

All of these words come from Iron Cast by Destiny Soria, a young adult book about prohibition, asylums, and hemopaths, people capable of creating illusions through song, poetry, and art. I highly recommend this diverse read, and I hope this list of beautiful words encourages you to check it out. Seriously. Everything in this post comes from that book. If you’re curious, here’s my book review on Goodreads.

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria Study Guide:

Five Senses:

          Sound:

Raucously: making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise

Sonorous: (of a person’s voice or other sound) imposingly deep and full

          Smell:

Redolent: fragrant and sweet smelling OR strongly reminiscent or suggestive of

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Another reason to learn? Wooing women. 😉

Emotions:

Avaricious: having or showing an extreme greed for wealth or material gain

Imperturbable: unable to be upset or excited; calm

Languorous: the state or feeling, often pleasant, of tiredness or inertia

Temerity: excessive confidence or boldness; audacity

Beatific: blissfully happy

Body parts/Medical:

Carbuncle: a severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria.

Paunchy: a large or protruding abdomen or stomach.

Relating to People:

Spectacled: wearing spectacles

Haughty: arrogantly superior and disdainful

Stodgy: dull and uninspired, ex. stodgy old men

Gaggle: a disorderly or noisy group of people (also a flock of geese)

Expression: Speaking/Writing:

Asperity: harshness of tone or manner

Succinctly: (especially of something written or spoken) briefly and clearly expressed

Other Description:

Inscrutable: impossible to understand or interpret

Ostensibly: apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually

Anathema: something or someone that one vehemently dislikes

You might think you know every word you read, but really, if you slow down and ask yourself what the literal definitions of words are (rather than relying on context), you’ll force yourself to look up more and more words to learn on your own. It might seem like a waste of time or time-consuming, but I honestly love it. I revel in challenging myself to memorize new phrases and understand a wider range of the English language, and I believe it helps my writing.

Try it out for yourself and see which words you learn.

Who knows? You might need to use it in a novel one day.

~SAT

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#SATurdate: Star Trek, Tallulah, Free Book, & Rice Maker Cake

6 Aug

Since last Saturday was my monthly Ketchup post, this one covers two weeks of info.

What I’m Writing:

I’m dutifully writing in Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lightning right now, and so far, I love working with these characters again, especially the brand-new crew that’s being introduced. That being said, I’m 31,269 words in, and currently writing July 10, 2090. I am considering stepping aside from the Bad Bloods Prequel so I can concrete completely on Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lightning, but I will let you know before the next Wattpad post is due on August 12. Work is pretty intense right now, so if I can get 10,000 words done a week, I’m pretty happy! We’ll see what August brings!

What I’m Publishing:

Bad Bloods is now available! And SURPRISE! Book one is now free!

Bad Bloods Free Book

Bad Bloods Free Book

November Rain

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

November Snow,

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads

Photo by BookPrints! (Look closely. You might see Take Me Tomorrow!)

Photo by BookPrints! (Look closely. You might see Take Me Tomorrow!)

What is the latest reader saying? “A powerful work of art. In November Rain, Thompson invites us into a world of secrecy, murder and unlikely friendships that are bound to make your head spin with wonder.”Lena May Books

Thank you for writing reviews! You all are the best. Seriously, your reviews make my day, and I am happy to share them. Oh! And your photos. Send them my way.

This #1lineWed theme was wind, so here is your preview:

What I’m Reading:

I’m currently in a reading typhoon. I’m reading An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Sea of Stars by Amy A. Bartol. Both are awesome! But I’m also staring at my copy of Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray, desperately wanting to read it, but also knowing I won’t get anything else in my life done the second I open it up. Ah! #Readerproblems.

What I’m Listening To:

Since I’ve shared what my female protagonist of Bad Bloods: July Thunder/Lightning has loved, this is the first song my male protagonist loved. Fun fact: Silent Rider was one of the main bands I listened to while writing Bad Bloods: November Rain/Snow, though Serena loved them. Daniel didn’t like music.

What I’m Watching:

 I HAD to see the new Star Trek film, and I LOVED it. I actually liked it more than the last one. It was both thrilling and hilarious, though sad to think Anton Yelchin is gone. He’s been one of my favorite actors since Charlie Bartlett (and if you haven’t seen that or Odd Thomas, do so now). I hear they aren’t going to recast his character, which I think is really respectful. I look forward to seeing where this series goes in the future. Definitely recommended.

I also watched Tallulah on Netflix, and it was the best! I cried a lot—like A LOT, a lot—because Tallulah was perfection. There are so many discussions to be had about this film, and it was nice to see an almost all-female cast for once (and to see women depicted as round, complicated characters with rich histories). Great movie!

And…I’m binge-watching Playful Kiss, a Korean drama based off yet another manga I’ve read. Although I liked Good Morning Call a lot more, I cannot get over these guilty pleasures of mine.

Star Trek, Talulah, & Playful Kiss

Star Trek, Talulah, & Playful Kiss

What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

rice maker pancake cake

rice maker pancake cake

I FINALLY got my hands on a rice maker…and the first thing I made in it was a cream cheese raspberry swirl pancake cake. Not going to lie, this was the best dessert ever. I did make rice later though, and it was awesome! I’ve been wanting one of these gadgets forever. My life is now complete. I also made cheesecake swirl brownies…but nothing compares to that pancake cake.

Recipes: pancake rice maker cake & cheesecake swirl brownies

What I’m Wearing:

Black cat coffee mug

Black cat coffee mug

Fogged-up sunglasses, because the humidity is so intense here, no one can see a thing. But really, I’ve been wearing anything that matches my brand-new cat coffee mug. (Okay, so not literally, but isn’t it cute?) I have three cats: one black one, one brown one, and one white one…so I’m thinking I need to get two more coffee mugs to represent my little cat family. (Though everyone around me has told me my coffee mug collection is getting out of hand, I just can’t stop loving them.)

What I’m Wanting:

The Black Key by Amy Ewing

The Black Key by Amy Ewing

The Black Key by Amy Ewing. I LOVED The Jewel and The White Rose. (Click those links to read my five-star reviews on Goodreads). I’m super excited to see how this trilogy ends in October.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

So, I lived on this icy landscape, but honestly, it looked more like the world was frozen over, because we were in the middle of a city. Think about any apocalypse setting in a movie—scattered cars all over the highway, nobody around, eerie silence—that sort of thing. But we had a camp of people living in the mountains…then, no one started coming back after scavenging and hunting. So, my brother and I set out to find them…only to stumble across a bunch of messed up corpses. That’s when my brother shouted, “POLAR BEAR!” And sure enough, he was eaten. I ran away though, and I managed to get inside the flappiest tent I’ve ever seen, which apparently, was safe from this man-eating, crazed polar bear. I probably should’ve been eaten in this dream, too, but surprisingly, I woke up after falling asleep in the tent peacefully.

What Else Is Going On:

I officially have new author photos! Special thanks goes out to Huntress Photography for the lovely shoot.

~SAT

#WW Connecting Books Across Genres

3 Aug

I’m a young adult author who writes in various genres. I have contemporary, paranormal romance, fantasy, and science fiction published, but my two main series include a Dark vs. Light paranormal romance that takes place in the small Midwest town of Hayworth—The Timely Death Trilogy—and a science fiction duology—Bad Bloods—about children with hindering abilities fighting against an election that decides if they will continue to be executed or not. While The Timely Death Trilogy takes place in modern Kansas, Bad Bloods takes place in an undisclosed southern city bordered by the ocean and locked in by walls in the year 2089. Despite having different locations, time periods, and genres, these series are connected.

What? How?

Well, let me tell you without spoiling it for you: the characters.

If you read The Timely Death Trilogy and you also read the Bad Bloods Prequel (FREE on Wattpad), you will get to know a little girl named Violet. She is the key to the connection. But that’s all I’ll say for now.

Why did I connect these two, seemingly unrelated stories? Because they ARE related, and they always have been in my mind. I mean, they existed in my mind at the same time, after all. And so do all of my stories. Which, basically means I connect all of my novels in some way or another.

Consider it a wink to all those readers who follow every book by an author.

My books I'm discussing, The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods

My books I’m discussing, The Timely Death Trilogy and Bad Bloods

But how do I do this?

I’m not sure there’s a method, necessarily. I always tell aspiring writers to follow their gut, and this is often why. For instance, I definitely don’t know every book I will write in my life time, but by keeping my mind and heart open to the characters (and honest), I guarantee they’ll reveal a weird twist of how they got to know each other while hanging out in my mind space.

As an example? Many readers were dying for a continuation of The Timely Death Trilogy (or a happily ever after epilogue), but the truth of it was, whenever I attempted to tackle a shiny, pretty ending, I only saw my characters lives becoming more and more complicated as they grew older. (A reality, really.) And while I wanted to leave everyone on a happy note, Violet’s character in Bad Bloods is so powerful to The Timely Death Trilogy, I couldn’t deny what she wanted to say: the truth. And that truth became the connection, and to me, these connections remind us an important truth to every story.

Connecting books across genres shows that a character’s story never ends, even when the pages do.

~SAT

I have new author photos! Check out my right side tool bar to see it, and of course, special thanks to Huntress Photography!

My publisher is also hosting an August Back to School Giveaway! You can win a $25 gift card to Amazon, CTP mystery boxes, November Snow, and many other books!

Bad Bloods: November Rain

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Bad Bloods: November Snow! 

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods: November Snow

Bad Bloods: November Snow

#WW Website Wonders

27 Jul

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 July’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, and Art.

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

Favorite Article: Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections A Year by Literary Hub I think this article both shows how hard it can be to get published and how much determination you must have to move forward. It’s both encouraging and honest, and I think a lot of writers could benefit from keeping “rejection” in mind as a necessary step forward.

For Writers:

Writing Tip: Eye Color by Mary C. Moore: This is SO true! Most of the time, eye color doesn’t matter. And most people have brown eyes…but apparently not in fiction. A great article.

Letting That Manuscript Go: An Agent’s Struggle: Also by Mary C. Moore, this article shows the other side of the publishing industry. Remember, agents are people, too.

The 120 Most Helpful Websites For Writers in 2015: So this is from last year but still really great!

For Readers:

Which one would you choose?

Which one would you choose?

Want to support an author’s or illustrator’s new book but can’t afford to buy it? Here’s what you can do. A wonderful infograph.

CSI: Poetry. The life and death -ok just death- of poets: This was sent to me by the writer, and it’s really informative!

13 Sci-Fi Gadgets You Won’t Believe Already Exist: Love articles like this. So much fun (or maybe not so much fun) to see new technologies or existing strange ones.

Art:

The Monster Gallery: This designer took kids’ drawings and professionally drew them. It’s wonderful!

Characters from Classic Paintings Are Inserted into the Modern World: I love this awkward and magnificent portrait collection.

I hope you love these articles as much as I do!

See you next month,

~SAT

Bad Bloods is OUT NOW!

November Rain

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November Snow

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Bad Bloods: November Snow

Bad Bloods: November Snow

#WW Publishing A Political YA Book During An Election

13 Jul

My upcoming release features an election. Even more startling, there are eerie similarities to what is happening in my sci-fi dystopian novel and what is happening today…despite the fact that the original released almost a decade ago.

There’s a wall that separates cities, there are debates about the economic crisis and the impacts it has on various classes, and there are people fighting for rights they’ve been denied for too long.

There is pain and talk and laughter, but most of all, there is hope. And all of these emotions come down to a single moment at the end of November—our election month and the very month the entire Bad Bloods books take place in.

Recent Book Teaser

Recent Book Teaser

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

Writing a YA novel where a single election affects the lives (or the deaths) of a group of young people has been important to me since the first day I started writing it. As many people know, Bad Bloods was originally published in 2007 when I was only 16, and despite the dark nature of the story, I was only 11 when I began planning it. Why would I start writing political YA when I was so young? Because political decisions affect the young, and the young have little to no say about it. To me, I choose to focus on children, because children are the most affected, least able to change it, and hold the hope for our future. And sadly, a world where children are discriminated against, held back, and/or killed is not only found in science fiction. It’s found in our very real world, all around us.

Despite the similarities in Bad Bloods and in today’s upcoming election, my hope is that readers will still read Bad Bloods as Bad Bloods, and not as a social-political commentary on the current state. Strange, I know, but I didn’t write this book with Trump and Hillary and the current state of the world in mind. I wrote this book to show the pain of genocide, of discrimination against the innocent, and of what can happen to our youth when we don’t keep our future in mind.

Such a topic shouldn’t be limited to one year, one election, or one event.

It should be discussed until it is changed, and it should be changed until we don’t have to debate these issues anymore.

Maybe, one day, that will happen, and 11-year-old girls won’t feel the need to write books about politics in order to understand how a world could be more interested in having debates than by helping the real lives affected by it.

Maybe, one day, 11-year-old girls will only write fairy tales, but I’m proud that I wrote about politics at a young age.

We should remind ourselves that kids are powerful. Kids can like politics. Kids can read about politics. Kids can understand politics. Kids can debate.

Let them speak,

~SAT

Bad Bloods releases on MONDAY! 

What are readers already saying?

“Wow…I mean this as a compliment, November Snow ripped out my heart, then stepped on it…Then laughed at my dead heart on the ground. End the end, Bad Bloods: November Snow is an amazing read that I recommend to everyone.” – The Book Forums

“Filled with suspense, action, and unexpected twists, Bad Bloods is one of my favorite duologues this year. I strongly recommend this book to anyone. My heart broke in the end, but I loved every minute of this book.” – OMG Books and More Books

“This book is addicting and very fast paced. I highly recommend this amazing story.” – Black Words-White Pages

Special thanks goes out to these three bloggers for sending in reviews yesterday.

Thanks to reviews, I’ve been approved to write a sequel, too! So more Bad Bloods books are on the way.

Thank you for your support!

Pre-Order Bad Bloods

November Rain, Part One, releases July 18, 2016

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November Snow, Part Two, releases July 25, 2016

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwordsGoodreads

Preorder Bad Bloods

Preorder Bad Bloods

Death Before Daylight Cover Reveal

6 Nov

I first want to thank everyone who took my poll on November 1st! For those of you who asked for more YouTube videos, you watched a secret video on my YouTube channel – Coffee & Cats – and you got to see the cover one day early. Check it out below if you want. I plan on sharing more secret videos in the future as well!

Today is all about Death Before Daylight. Both the cover and the synopsis are finally available, and I hope you enjoy them! Get excited for the last installment of The Timely Death Trilogy. In future posts, you can expect excerpts, a cover explanation, the back cover, quotes, and more! But special thanks goes out to the cover artist – Viola Estella – today.

Seconds Before SunriseTwo eternities. One ending.

“Harmony would only come with destruction.”

The moment Eric and Jessica are reunited, they are torn apart. After the appearance of a new breed of shades and lights, the powers shift for the worse, and all three descendants find themselves face-to-face in the Light realm. When Darthon is in control, the last thing everyone expects to hear is the truth.

While Jessica learns the reason of her creation, Darthon’s identity is exposed to Eric – and only Eric – but Eric can no longer defend himself. With the eternities of the Light and the Dark resting on Jessica’s shoulders, she must chose who she will be – a light or a shade – and both have dire consequences.

In the end, someone must die, and the end is near.

We’re still on schedule for a late January release, and I’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s available on Goodreads or Amazon for pre-order! Until then, keep up-to-date right here, and be sure to catch up on Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, and Seconds Before Sunrise, book 2, in the meantime.

~SAT

Click today!

Click today!

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

24 Sep

Announcements:

ShannonAThompson.com hit 18,000 followers! As a surprise, I shared the meaning behind all the chapter titles in Take Me Tomorrow on my Facebook page. Every chapter title is actually a direct quote from the chapter you’re about to read. This is to represent the clairvoyant drug, tomo, since it allows takers to experience the future. For those who haven’t read the story, tomo does not necessarily give you clear visions. It affects all people and all senses differently. Sometimes, you hear it, taste it, smell it, or feel it. In fact, it’s hardly ever clear as to what is happening. Only those who are experienced with the drug are able to interpret what they are experiencing, and even then, everything is just a guess, and the drug itself is debatable. But the chapter titles aren’t! If you go through the novel you will see the titles later on in the prose. Chapter One – Don’t Come Back – is found in this quote, “My heart lurched at his sudden change in demeanor, but I managed a nod toward the north. The forest opened up to the only park Topeka still had. ‘Don’t come back.’”

When Eat Books For Breakfast reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, she said it “was definitely an intriguing read—different from most of the other books in its genre…I would recommend it to readers of young adult dystopian fiction.” Read the full review by clicking here or check out my latest novel here.

I would also like to take a moment to thank Dan Thompson for including Take Me Tomorrow in his post Two Books Are Better Than One. (And no, believe it or not, we’re not related.)

Thank you for reading my announcements today!

Why Are Parents Dead in Fiction?

The other day, I was sitting in a hookah house while attending an online event. (I don’t always have the Internet at home, so I go there to work.) That’s when a good friend of mine came up to keep me company, and I was telling him about a novel I am working on. The main character is an orphan. That’s when we got to talking.

Why are parents always dead or absent?

This isn’t a new conversation. I’ve had it with many people, mainly in regards to Disney movies, but I think it applies to most fiction, especially young-adult fiction, but I’ll get to why I think that in a minute. First, I would like to admit that my stories are no exception. The Timely Death Trilogy involves two protagonists – Eric’s biological mother committed suicide, and his father doesn’t have the best relationship with his son, while both of Jessica’s biological parents died in a car wreck, but she was adopted, and she does have a good relationship with her adoptive parents. In Take Me Tomorrow, Sophia’s father is practically absent due to his traveling job, and her mother hasn’t been in her life since she was seven, but she does live with a mother-sister figure named Lyn. Why did I do this? I can’t speak for every author when I explain my theories, but I will explain my personal reasons for deceased or absent parents as well as a hypothesis from the literary side. Before I continue, I want to clarify that I am (in general) talking about fiction for children and young adults.

Literary reason:

Coming-of-age is a popular topic among fiction for teens and preteens, mainly because they are going through it themselves. That being said, I think a huge factor of “coming-of-age” is finding yourself through independence. This is one of the main reasons I believe parents aren’t included in fiction, whether that is through death or absence, but another reason includes freedom. I know. I know. I sound horrible for saying freedom in regards to an absent parent, but I don’t mean “freedom” as a good thing. I mean it as a driving force for a character to venture outside of their home, to go on adventures, to strive to survive on their own. If they had a perfect family at home, this need for survival or adventure would be hard to justify. But I would like to point out one thing that others seem to forget to mention. Even if a character is an orphan or under other unfortunate circumstances, the character (usually) has a parental figure, and I think that is just as important as having a “real” parent in the story. To me, a “real” parent doesn’t have to give life to a child or adopt a child or anything in terms of a traditional definition. I believe a parent can be anyone who is the main guide and protector for a child. In that sense, I don’t believe we take parents out of fiction. I think we show readers that parents (guidance) can come from many places, which can be vital during a time in which young people are striving for independence outside the home.

From The Write Catch

From The Write Catch

Personal reason:

I am only including this section to give insight to an author’s reasoning behind it (rather than my above section that simply guesses as to why we find ourselves in those instances.) When it comes to dead or removed parents in fiction, I can relate to it. My mother died when I was 11, and my father was a traveling businessman. I hardly saw him growing up. In fact, I saw nannies more, and we never had the same one for long. Mainly because my brother and I were rather…well…angry might be the best way of saying it. The only time we did have another parent in the house was my stepmother, and she was only married to my dad for a year before they were divorced, and we definitely didn’t get along. Whew. Is that enough personal information? I don’t necessarily have a problem sharing it, even if it makes others uncomfortable, because it was my life. My life is much better now. But it’s hard for me to imagine a teenage-life with parents being actively involved, so I personally write about orphans or absent parents because that was my life growing up, and my characters are going to reflect certain parts of my life, even when I don’t realize it. That being said, I still believe that parents are in my fiction (like Lyn with Sophia in Take Me Tomorrow or Jessica’s adoptive parents in The Timely Death Trilogy, not to mention Eric’s stepmother.)

So where am I going with this?

Sometimes authors aren’t writing about orphans or neglected kids for literary reasons. Sometimes they are writing from their heart, and – in reality – I have met more teenagers who can relate to absent situations than not. Having a “perfect” family is…let’s be real…impossible. No one is perfect. Everyone is human. And families will reflect that both in life and in fiction.

The reason that parents are generally dead and/or absent is simple: it happens. But that doesn’t mean we can’t add more parents to story lines. In my little opinion, including them is just as fine as not including them as long as the author is being true to the story.

Feel free to comment below with your reasons or thoughts on this topic! I know we’ve all at least read a novel or seen a Disney movie that includes this debate, so chat away,

~SAT

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