Tag Archives: young adult fiction writers

A Writer’s Freakout Schedule

29 Aug

Between COVID and (insert any number of other awful things happening right now), freakouts are commonplace at the moment. Right? RIGHT???

I don’t know. Maybe you’re not going through it, but I know I’ve certainly had my moments of heightened stress, which is probably why I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the delicate balance of productivity and mindfulness. On one hand, I want to maintain my level of productivity, be successful, follow the dream. On the other, I just want to eat this tub of ice cream and be left alone. So, I guess the solution is to sit here with my ice cream while I write this article. (It’s Cherry Garcia, if you’re wondering.)

Writers are used to wearing a lot of hats. Between day jobs and family, squeezing in time to write is nothing new to the aspiring novelist. Neither is imposter syndrome or writers’ burnout, not to mention writers’ block. But the other day, I finally heard a new one. 

A writers’ freakout schedule.

But first, a little backstory: 

Once a month, I meet up with some fellow writers on ZOOM just to chat about what we’re going through and how we’re handling it. We talk about our projects, but there’s no pressure to exchange pages or anything. If you don’t have something like this in your life, I highly recommend it. I look forward to it every month. 

During one of these monthly calls, I was talking about how bonkers life is at the moment and how to manage all these tectonic plates that are now life, when Jessica Conoley (authorpreneurship coach) mentioned how knowing her “freakout” schedule has helped her manage.

The moment she mentioned it, a lightbulb went off in my head. I had never thought about the concept of a freakout schedule before, but I also recognized how true the sentiment was right away.

Understanding when and how you will react to news, such as a critique or a rejection, can help you stay focused and calm, especially in these strange and twisty times. 

That being said, I wasn’t always aware of my freakout schedule. In fact, I’m pretty sure my roommate had to point it out to me once. (Okay. So, maybe a couple dozen times.) Basically, I used to think I didn’t have a freakout schedule. I would hear criticism or get a rejection and brush it off pretty quickly. Publishing is just business, right? I can adjust and keep trying. And I would. Right away, I would dive into revisions or go about writing life as normal…but two weeks later, the doubt would creep in. Then, the inevitable imposter syndrome. Soon, I’d be asking friends if I was delusional in my capabilities to finish a likeable story. I would threaten to put everything down, eventually declaring, “This is it! I quit!” 

The next day, I’d sit down at my computer, determined to delete it all and never look back…but hey, it couldn’t hurt to read it one last time. Soon, I’d be revising. And reading. And writing like nothing ever happened. 

My freakouts definitely have varying degrees, depending on what caused the situation to spiral. 

A little writers block isn’t going to last as long for me as a brutally honest critique from a trusted colleague. However, for someone else, it might be the complete opposite. Which brings me to my next piece of advice:

Understanding what sets you off—and for how long—is just as important as understanding you’re in a cycle. The cycle will end. 

This is just your freakout schedule.

~SAT

P.S. You may have noticed a new badge on my website. In case you didn’t, I am officially going to co-mentor with Sandra Proudman for Pitch Wars this year. Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer to spend three months revising their manuscript. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more. Learn more at PitchWars.orgOur wishlist will go up right here on September 12!

The Top 10 Seriously Awkward Conversations I’ve Had When People Hear I’m a Writer

5 Jun

Two announcements before I share my awkward conversations:

The book trailer for Seconds Before Sunrise released. Check it out on YouTube by clicking here. Remember: the eBook releases June 12th! AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. is throwing a VIRTUAL launch party on June 12th from 7 – 9 p.m. (CDT) to celebrate, and you can win a Kindle as well as many other prizes. You can also interview me live 😀 Click here to join.

Also, you’ll notice that my progress bar has been updated on the right side of my website. The black marks on the “Death Before Daylight” bar represents 10,000 word marks. We’re officially past the first 10,000 words! And we continue into the future with high hopes.

Being an author can be a crazy, fun, and maddening adventure. As Robert De Niro once said:

robert-de-niro-oscars-2104-quote-about-writers

From lorelle.wordpress.com

That’s what I was thinking about the other day when I fell into conversation with someone about my writing career. They asked something I haven’t been asked before, “What are the strangest questions you’ve been asked during interviews?” I had to think for a bit because I haven’t really been asked strange or awkward questions in interviews. (I think this is because interviewers are prepared to ask an author questions.) But I have been asked strange, downright bizarre questions – mainly by strangers in passing who find out I’m a writer, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my moments today.

Disclaimer: in the defense of the interrogators, I rejoice in awkward moments. I’ve enjoyed every little second of these conversations – even when they didn’t. Let’s start with the obvious one first:

1. “You’re a writer?”

“Yep.”

“Cool.” Unnecessarily long pause as the speaker (normally) glances up at the ceiling for no particular reason. “So what do you do all day?”

…I write.

2. “Do you write those dirty books?”

There’s nothing quite as dirty as being asked if you write “those dirty books.” What an unsexy synonym for erotica. Even worse is what people say after you reply no. I did not need to know how your sister, mother, and aunt read Fifty Shades of Grey during Christmas dinner. And I definitely didn’t need to know that you let your current girlfriend borrow your mother’s copy. Without your mother’s permission. Stop your anecdote now. Please. Before you say the word “dirty” again.

 3. “Did you write Twilight?”

“Is that a real question?”

“Oh….uh, I guess not.” (Another long pause that causes me to wonder why everyone pause so much) “Do you write books like Twilight? Like with sparkly vampires and shit?”

“I write in the same genre, but no vampires.”

“Wait. There’s an entire section for that?”

“Genre, yes. There is.”

“Is it titled Vampire Fiction?”

“No.” This is when I start questioning whether or not I already mentioned that I don’t write about vampires and why everyone brings up Twilight every day when they supposedly hate it.

4. But why would a twenty-year-old want to write about teens?

Because high school was the best time of my life.

(It was unbelievably painful to write that sentence down.)

I don’t know why a twenty-some-year-old enjoys writing about young adults. Why would a sixty-five-year-old want to write about dragons and direwolves? Because I like to. And my characters’ ages don’t define them or their readers. Hence why Harry Potter was read by pretty much everyone and their cousin.

5. Can you put me in your book?

Sure. But you might not like it. (You probably won’t like it. You’ll also wind up dead.)

6. Did you base that character off of me?

Normally, this is asked by friend or some other kind of close relative that shares the love of reading with you. Depending on the character in question, you might be tempted to say yes, even if it isn’t true. Your lover might even ask if you based the protagonist’s love interest on them. This could be a trap. This is probably a trap.

7. Why are you pro/con (insert controversial political or religious topic here)?

I’m sorry – what? Just because my character carries a gun on his right hip or gets an abortion or believes God isn’t real, doesn’t mean that I do these things, let alone believe in them. In fact, I don’t have a lot in common with many of my characters.

Exhibit A (The Timely Death Trilogy): Eric is a boy. I am not. Jessica can paint. I cannot. Pierce is funny. I am not.

Exhibit B (November Snow): Calhoun lost his arm in a POW accident. I did, too. Wait. No. No, I didn’t.

Forget about exhibit B.

8. Who’s the bad guy? Also known as, please tell me the biggest spoiler in your story before the story is even close to released.

Sure. But make sure your cell phone is ready. I want to make sure you Tweet about it before you post it on your Facebook wall and share your screenshot to your Instagram. #spoiler #Iknowtheauthor #forreals

9. Can you publish my book?

“It isn’t written yet, and I have no idea who the main character is, but there’s a girl in it, and she falls in love with a boy, but he doesn’t like her back, and then she finds another boy, and the boy (the first boy) comes back and realizes he loves her, and he confesses to her, and she leaves the boy (the second boy) to be with the first boy only for the first boy to change her mind before she goes back to the second guy and the first guy regrets it forever until they meet up again in the future and she’s still with the second guy but the second guy isn’t really interested anymore so she wants to start over with the first guy and he wants to try to but he feels too guilty about the second guy still being there so the girl starts to think that she should leave the second guy first before she gets with the first guy but she’s also afraid she will lose her last chance if she does, so—“

Email me. Please. Seriously. I actually like to help writers. But…standing by my table in a coffee shop as I finish up my editing is not the way to go about it. I’m a chatterbox. I am. But the one time I don’t talk is when I’m writing. I’m sorry, but I can’t just help the second you appear. I’m not the fairy godmother of publishing. I wish I was. If I was – trust me – more of my novels would be out. Your novels would be out, too. But – alas – the fairy godmother of publishing was not my destiny. However, I do like to help when I am available, so feel free to email me at shannonathompson@aol.com. I will help you as much as I can.

10. Is your protagonist a brunette because you’re a brunette?

You caught me. That’s why my female protagonist in November Snow was blond. I used to be blond, and there’s nothing like having the same hair color that screams, “Team work!”

…Oh, wait. I wasn’t blond? Really? Not even once?

Hmm, I have to reevaluate.

Those are the top 10 awkward (interesting?) questions I’ve been asked. They may not be completely awkward, but I did find myself enjoying every moment of them. If you’ve ever been asked questions you never expected to hear, share them below!

~SAT

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