Tag Archives: young author

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

Contest News: One Week

8 May

It’s been one week since my young-adult novel, Minutes Before Sunset released, and it’s been an absolute adventure so far! Reviews are already popping up, and I’m happy to say I have a 4.8 star rating on Goodreads and 4.2 star rating on Amazon.

Two reviews from Amazon:

Screen Shot 2013-05-06 at 10.41.54 AM

I also received a review from upcoming author, Amber Skye Forbes. Read it here.

Back when I was self-publishing Minutes Before Sunset, I held a cover competition, because I love for my readers to be involved as much as possible with my pieces. In fact, the winning cover impressed my publisher so much, Autumn Fog Photography will be designing the cover for book 2 (releasing this Fall/Winter.) I’m excited, now that I have a publisher, and they’ve continued working with me, so I can keep giving back. So I have a new contest!

The paperback is in the final process, and below, you will see two book jackets. The only difference between the two is the back.

One has a longer description, the other has a shorter one (with two author reviews), but you also have the ability to vote for one yet created: one in-between (a description the size of one character and the reviews.)

Comment about which one you like, and one reader will win a free paperback while five others will win a free e-book version! All I ask is to comment (vote) and clarify which one (or both) you’d like to be qualified for. If you’ve already bought the e-book, you’re welcome to join the paperback competition, but please don’t join the e-book if you already have one.

Thank you for understanding and helping my publisher decide which jacket is the best to use for you all! 

Longer description book jacket

Longer description book jacket

Shorter description with author reviews

Shorter description with author reviews

Don’t forget that you can also vote for a third type (medium-length description + author reviews) 

As an extra, here’s the number one quote on Goodreads page:

“One moment of true happiness was worth all the moments of pain. (Jessica)”
Shannon A. ThompsonMinutes Before Sunset

~SAT

P.S. Looking forward to give back! And posting again this Friday about my poetry reading at the University of Kansas, today at 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Publishing News: One Week To Go: First Chapter & Extra

24 Apr

One week before the Minutes Before Sunset release! That means there’s only seven days left! And I have exciting free things to share. But there is one change: you’ll be able to buy Minutes Before Sunset online as e-book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble May 1, 2013, but paperback won’t be available for a few more weeks. I apologize for this inconvenience, but things happen in the printing world, and I’d rather be able to give you all a great product in a few weeks than rush something that isn’t perfect on May 1st :D. So I’ll announce when the print version is available (it won’t be too long! I promise!)

First and foremost: Here is the back cover (if you haven’t already read it) and the first chapter can be found immediately below it:

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Read the first chapter of Minutes Before Sunset (AEC Stellar Publishing) by clicking the link provided (it will open a PDF file on another page): First Chapter Preview.

I’m excited to share the first chapter with you, and I cannot wait for the novel’s release next week! One moment comes down to a lot of time, dedication, and handwork (But I know many of you already know this) so I’d really appreciate it if you helped spread the word! Don’t forget I have a Facebook Page for both Minutes Before Sunset and myself (which just went over 200 followers!)

I also wanted to share a very dear to picture to me. As many of you know, I’ve been wanting to dedicate Minutes Before Sunset to my late roommate Kristine Andersen, but I also wanted to dedicate it to our other roommate, Megan Paustian, because the time we lived together lives forever, and those memories live within my passion. The picture below shows, from left to right, Megan Paustian, me, and Kristine Andersen during August, 2012. I simply wanted to share the two important people I’ve dedicated my novel to.

Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen--the two lovely ladies I've dedicated "Minutes Before Sunset" to.

Megan Paustian and Kristine Andersen–the two lovely ladies I’ve dedicated “Minutes Before Sunset” to.

 If you’re interested in other extras, I have one more to share today! It’s rather childish, but when I was younger I spent a lot of my free time on eLouai’s Candybar Doll Maker 3. The reason is pretty simple: I wanted a break from writing, but I’m not very good at it, so I’d log on and create my characters (as best as I could within the limits of clothing, hair, etc.) and just have fun with it. So I returned to the website to create the cast of Minutes Before Sunset. I’ll be adding them as the novel is released, but I’m adding the protagonists below (and if you’re looking for something fun to do, I actually would encourage this website. I’m almost 22, and I still had fun. Then again, my childhood imagination has never faltered. BUT–they do have room makers, and you could theoretically create maps for scenes, or figure out what your character might wear or not wear. So it is a nice exercise.)

Protagonists from left to right: Jessica Taylor, Eric Welborn, Shoman, and the nameless shade.

Protagonists from left to right: Jessica Taylor, Eric Welborn, Shoman, and the nameless shade. There are differences. I, of course, couldn’t add supernatural things, including purple eyes on the last character. Clothes aren’t accurate, but it’s still fun to create!

Have a great day! And thank you for helping spread the word about my upcoming novel! 

~SAT

Shannon Summary: How Do I Write?

20 Oct

Okay, so a week back, fellow blogger, WineCountryMom, suggested that I answer some questions about writing as she had done (which I thought was REALLY informing and interesting from one writer to another). So here’s my “How Do I Write?” interview:

How long do you spend writing each day? 

How long I spend on writing depends on if I’m writing that day and what I’m writing. I’ve gone days where all I did was write. As a teenager, my father actually had to steal my laptop to remind me to eat and sleep, because I will continuously write once I lose myself to my fantasies. However, if I’m not writing creatively that day, I—at least—spend thirty minutes blogging and thirty minutes journaling. (I’m a huge advocate of journaling!)

What time of day do you prefer to write?

Nighttime! I’m a night owl. If I could, I would sleep all day long, and write from sunset to sunrise every day.

Do you set yourself a time limit or a word limit? No limits?

I generally don’t do either, but I have done a word-limit before. November Snow is 125,978 words (600 pages), but most publishers won’t risk a first-time author with a novel over 80,000 words, so I’ve set that limit before.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?

Yes and no. It depends on my concentration. Sometimes, I find even music can be distracting, but I initially use it every time—I generally listen to classical (but very dramatic) music. Something mellow with very few words, so I don’t get distracted by lyrics.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or turn off your WiFi completely?

I’m on the internet constantly. I try REALLY hard to ignore it, but, even as I’m writing, I find myself needing to research or look for inspiration.

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

I’m more of a swooper. Although I try very hard to be a basher, it’s hard for me to continue to write when I don’t just lose myself to the words and story—coming back to fix mistakes later.

Do you eat when you’re writing? What snacks/drinks do you go to?

Hardly ever. If anything, maybe a coffee. But my hands are too busy typing to eat. Plus, I’m very clumsy, and I don’t want to spill something all over my laptop (because I surely will).

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates?

I like to believe I never procrastinate when it comes to writing. If anything, my writing becomes my procrastination towards my every-day life.

How do the people (roommates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule? 

I fit them in or I fit writing in as my schedule changes. If I feel like socializing, I socialize. If I feel like writing, that’s what I’m doing. I don’t let those schedules effect one another unless it’s a special event.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?

I’m actually a pick up and go person. I find my every-day desk distracting, because I do homework, journaling, blogging, and writing there. I prefer to go to a nice coffee shop (cliché, I know) or a hookah house or anywhere with WiFi where I can put in headphones and not get kicked out after a couple of hours.

I hope this was interesting to fellow writers, and maybe you can relate or have found things we have in common! I think these are great questions to consider when thinking about yourself as an author, and I encourage others to take a moment to contemplate answers (or maybe even post about them!)

Happy Saturday! Here’s a picture of my cat, Bogart, because you can never have enough pictures of your pets, friends, and family!

Bogart

~SAT

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