Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

Favorite Books From Childhood

When I was growing up, my most favorite place in the world was to go to the library. It was the best day of the week for me. I think at some point, I had read every book in the children’s section of our small-town library.

There was just something so magical about going there to me. Looking back now, I guess that’s where I started dreaming of becoming a writer. To have a book on the shelves with my name on the cover was just too fantastical to even imagine when I was young.

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This is a picture of my library in the very small and quaint Maine town that I grew up in. It doesn’t look like much on the outside and you can’t see the extension in the back. I still can recall the squeaky wooden floor and the front door that always stuck when you entered the building. There was another room that served as the archives and a smaller room for the more current and modern books.

But at the rear, there was one long part which was the children’s section. I can still smell the old parchment and somewhat musty fragrance that was always in the air.

I read recently that the town was getting a new building and my heart sunk a little. This place shaped me in so many ways and I do not think I will ever forget it.

I suppose that’s what prompted me to write this blog post. I started thinking about growing up and what I liked to read. I had such a great time trying to remember all the books I loved. I felt like I was discovering them all over again.

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I still can picture myself reading this book and feeling the wonder of Shel Silverstein.

 

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Forget Cinderella.  Snow-White and Red-Rose was my absolute favorite fairy tale book.

Goodness, does anyone still read this story?

 

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Elves and Fairies. A collection of poems and an introduction to all sorts of magical creatures. Brownies, Pixies. I adored it.

 

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I loved Raggedy Ann. I still have my doll from when I was little. My daughter was somewhat freaked out by it, but I have kept my raggedy doll for purely sentimental reasons. I suppose nowadays, dolls are far more prettier and more elaborate.

I also think my mother dressed me up as Raggedy Ann for Halloween…

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I adored Holly Hobbie and I also think for a short time, my room when I was little might have been fashioned after this character.

Shabby chic. My mother was ahead of the curve.

 

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Three Little Kittens have lost their mittens…

I’m allergic to cats and honestly, I’m just more of a dog person, but for some strange reason, I remember reading this book all the time.

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I read this books dozens of times. A young witch going to a school for witches… Anna Elizabeth Bennett was truly a visionary in my humble opinion.

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Tiny people living in a house and borrowing from the big people. Once again, another highly imaginative and amazing story for young minds.

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I admit, I saw the movie (the real movie-you know with Gene Wilder who was so awesome and somewhat creepy) first. I made a special trip just to check out the book.

 

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Oh, Narnia…how you shaped so much of my young mind and also captured my imagination. I began a lifetime habit of always checking closets and wardrobes for a path to an enchanted forest.

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I have a memory of reading this book. It was in the summertime, and I was out in my tree house, basking in the shade on a rather hot day. There was not even a hint of a breeze in the air and my mother was yelling at my older brother Mike to mow the lawn.

I have no idea where that memory came from. I also can recall watching the PBS miniseries when I was thirteen or so. I absolutely loved it and I dreamed of visiting Prince Edward Island and frolicking on the red sand.

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Full disclosure: My brother Kerry made me read this.

I didn’t want to. I did not think it was my kind of book, but oh, how the shire came to life for me and the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and of course, the wizard, Gandalf, made me hungry for more.

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Okay. Let’s get this out of the way. In middle school, I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High. I read every book numerous times and I was the girl, not in the library, but at the book store begging my mom for more, especially when a new one was released.

I outgrew them in high school, but I still remember my obsessiveness over this rather impressive collection of stories.

What were some of your favorites?

~Shannon

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Author Musings-When Your Family & Friends Don’t Read Your Book

I came across an interesting discussion on Twitter the other day. A fellow author had posed a question to us in the writing community.

Why doesn’t my family or friends read my work?

I was shocked and amazed at how similar everyone’s answer was and I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion. It was as if the silent question that had reverberated through my mind for years had been exposed and I realized it wasn’t just me asking the question.

Now, before any of my family or friends gets uppity-I love that word. Uppity- this is not a bashing blog post. I know someone is bound to get their panties in a knot, but just chill out, okay?

I came to several conclusions as I read responses and I suppose I wanted to share those as I finally address the somewhat forbidden question.

Your family and friends see you differently.

Your family has known you all your life. They know the good and they have witnessed the bad. To them you are not an author who actually has fans that anticipate your upcoming books. You’re the person they saw on a daily basis for many years and to even contemplate the notion that there are some out there who find you clever, amusing, or interesting is not something they can wrap their head around.

They may have a tinge of pride, but to them, they have watched you grow up and have read your Facebook status, complete with spelling and grammar errors.  To them you are a sister, a daughter, a cousin, or a mother.

Your friends have also been there for many aspects of your life and they have probably been privy to more than your family on some aspects of your character. They might support you and inquire every so often on what you have been up to, but are your friendships built on what you, or they do, for work or is it something deeper?

I know, for me personally, because I’m a writer, that if someone in my family or one of my friends wrote a book, I would read it.  If someone wrote a book that I knew, I would advertise it and share the links because that’s just what you do out of respect.

But on the other hand, do I like every photo or blog post that they share? No. I don’t.  Do I ask them all the time about their work? Nope, not really.

So, at the end of the day, am I just as guilty or is it because our work shouldn’t define our relationships with other people?

It’s an interesting question to pose because although our profession shouldn’t define us, it is still a big part of our lives. Perhaps we’re all guilty of discounting our family and friends’ work because we are more interested in other things that are going on with their lives.

They May Be Worried They Won’t Like Your Book

Let’s just get this out of the way before we move on. Guess what? Your family or friends may not like what you wrote and they don’t want to read it because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

I write fantasy/paranormal romance. I write stories with profanity and sometimes graphic sex scenes. Do I think my male cousins or religious friends are going to want to read that?

Yeah…no.

It’s cool. I get it. I think the issue with your family and friends not reading your stuff may also be because they don’t think they will be able to differentiate the main character and yourself. We all put something of ourselves into our writing and perhaps the images of you being the heroine may not be what they want to picture or read about.

Especially if there are sex scenes.

You may argue that’s not very mature and they should still support you, but let’s cut them some slack.

Moving on…

They Read Your Work and Hated It, But They Don’t Want to Hurt Your Feelings.

I’m going to put this out there right now. I read my first book and all I could see were errors. I have since had my first book edited heavily and I am now happy with it, but I can never go back to when it was first released.

After taking the time over the last few months to reformat my books, I can see a massive difference in my writing from when I started, but will your family and friends only remember the bad and that’s what’s holding them back from reading or supporting any more of your work?

Perhaps they have and they still don’t like any of your books. Maybe they just want to spare your feelings and are actually being kind. I can respect that, but do us self-published authors a favor. At the very least, share when we release a new book. Who knows? Maybe one of your friends will enjoy it more than you.

The Validation Question

Why do we write to begin with? Everyone may have a different philosophy. We may not want to admit this, but we do it for some kind of validation.

I can only tell you why I write and it’s not an easy admission for me to write down for everyone to see but here it is.

I write my stories because I want to read them. I do it for me and no one else. I started this journey because I was lost. I was a wife and a mother and for a long time those two things defined me. But I wanted more of an identity and I felt like my brain was bursting at the seams with stories.

I wanted to share them and I suppose, in a way, the more I wrote, the more I started to understand myself. It’s truly amazing. I found myself in my writing. That may sound corny, but it’s the truth. I felt more comfortable in my skin that I ever had before and it was empowering.

It still is actually.

I guess I have this need to share it with my family and friends because I want them to get me and get who I really am because I’m there in every line and every chapter that I write. I have shut myself off a bit since embracing the fact that, yes, I’m a writer, and I suppose this is my way of having a deep desire to give something of myself back to my loved ones since becoming distant.

What our family and friends need to realize that this is us. These words that we write are ourselves, open and bare for all to read. It’s deeply personal and as raw as it gets. You only have to look to realize this and that is why we want those closest to us to read our work.

We want them to know who we really are and we want to let them into our brain the only way we know how.

With words.

Perhaps we don’t express our feelings effectively, but everyone needs validation of their existence on some level and this is our way. You may not realize this and that’s okay. I don’ think we even admit this to ourselves very often.

Is it Really That Important for our Family and Friends To Read Our Work?

Yes and no.

It’s important for us to have our family and friends interested in our work. Just as it is equally important to be interested in theirs. We have to ask ourselves if we have also given our full support in their lives before we question their lack of enthusiasm.

After much research, I have come to the conclusion that to me, it’s not such a big deal as it used to be. I do not expect anyone I know to buy my books. I am happy doing my own thing and writing whatever I want without the worry that someone may not like it.

I know, I know, I always say it, but I can’t express this sentiment enough.

Write for yourself and no one else.

Don’t write for your family or friends. Don’t write a story that is more marketable or mainstream just because you want to be rich and famous.

Just write stories that mean something to you and only you.

Because when you’re all alone in front of your computer, it’s just you. There’s no one else and quite honestly, I kind of like that.

I put this poem in my first book, Isle of Skye. I used it because it had always spoke to me and I think it’s the perfect way to end this blog post.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 
~Shannon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editing, Formatting, and Random Thoughts.

 

I made a vow to update my blog more regularly and I am determined to do so!

I have been editing and reformatting Isle of Sky, book one, all week. It still, even after being professionally edited (HA! That’s a story for another day) needs tweaking.  I am finally on the process of reformatting, which I actually do enjoy, and I hope to have an updated version out soon.

I have to be honest, I am having fun rereading the story. It’s been quite some time and even though, this process is tedious, it’s also been a bit more of a motivator for me.

I think, as authors, we are always so immersed in our current projects, that we almost forget our other, older stories. I find myself remembering writing my first book and being overwhelmed with joy and terror.

So much has happened since I first wrote Isle of Skye. Not only personally, but also professionally. I am a lot more confident in my writing and also more comfortable in my own skin, if that makes sense.

I encourage all other authors who follow me, to sit down, and reread your work. It is truly an amazing experience. Not only can you make some tweaks, but you can also just take a moment to relive that joy.

And laugh about how insecure and terrified you might have felt when you finally finished.

I will admit though, I still do have doubts and insecurities about my writing. When I publish a book now there is a moment when I am almost paralyzed with fear. It’s not something that we authors talk about much. We try to convey this confidence that our book is the best ever as we try to sell it to not only our faithful readers, but new buyers as well.

I think you have to be always questioning your work and also, you have to be hungry in a sense. If you lose that edge, what is the point? Where does the satisfaction come from? Writing a book is a feeling like no other. There’s always that one review that makes your toes curl and your heart skip a beat. You can have dozens of bad reviews, but all it takes is for one to have you skipping through the rest of your day.

So, that’s it. That’s what’s going on in my world. Rediscovering, re-imagining, and refocusing.

Now, it’s time to finish book one and go on to book two. Isle of Night.

I will only ever admit this once.

But it’s one of my favorite books I have ever written.

Shhh…don’t tell anyone.

 

~Shannon

What I’m Reading & Watching this Summer…

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I receive a lot of questions about being a writer. One question that is almost always asked of me, is what am I reading right now and what do I recommend.

I don’t like to recommend books because every person has different tastes in books and genres. I pretty much will read anything you put in front of me, except for scary-wet-my-pants horror.

I won’t read it, so don’t ask me.

Here is list of what I have read this summer so far. It’s not a big list since I have been incredibly busy, but I do always find time to read.

 

DC Universe Rebirth: Yes, I read a comic book. My boys are in the business after all and I am also researching my next project. I actually enjoyed it, although probably because it was a major event in my house when it was released, but it was interesting.

Don’t laugh!

 

Eternal Vows: I have a confession. This book has been sitting in my Kindle library for some time now. It was a freebie and I finally after about 2 years got around to reading it. I enjoyed it. You never know what you’re going to get with a freebie, but this one was pretty good.

 

Harry Potter 1-7: I read the entire Harry Potter collection almost every summer. It’s a rite of passage for me.

 

Red Queen: I just finished this book a month ago and I am obsessed with it. On to the next!

 

The Paper Magician: This was a fun read and it truly is for all ages.

 

The Alchemyst: Where has this book been and why have I not read it before now? I am now on to book two!

 

Awakened Moon: Yes, I read my own books, especially when I am getting ready to edit the next book in the series. It really helps me get into the groove and also makes me remember anything I might have not mentioned in the next book as I edit.

 

What I’m watching…

I don’t know why I was worried about this series not being as good as the books. Holy Smokes!

My first thought when I finished with the last episode of season six was, I can’t wait to watch it again.

 

Yes, we are a big DC Comics household and I don’t care what anyone says, I liked Suicide Squad. It was fun and I thought it was even better the second time around.

 

 

This is an excellent adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan! Highly recommend!!!

 

 

So, I watch Real Housewives. Yup, I admitted it to the world. My favs are New York, Beverly Hills, The O.C. and Jersey. In that order.

I know I should be ashamed, but I’m not.

 

I love watching sports and the Olympics are two weeks in which I can be a sports nerd to my hearts content.

 

 

It’s summer. It’s baseball season and I am more often than not watching the Red Sox almost every single day.

I’m from New England and it’s in my blood.

 

~Shannon

 

 

Summer Update

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It’s summer! The air is thick and the vegetation is lush down here in the heart of Dixie. Summer is the time when I miss my home state of Maine the most. I think of the warm, picturesque scenery almost every time I step outside in the saturating, oppressive muggy heat of South Carolina.

I miss the cooling waters of my lake and hiking in the shadows of mountains for a refreshing nature walk. I think of the ice cream stands that are only open in the summer and almost every town has one where all the locals flock to as the temperatures rise.

I no longer see fresh produce stands on the side of the road and I am forced to contend with the overcrowded farmers’ market on Saturdays. I remember when I was a kid, we used to make the trek a few miles down the road at least twice a week to a rustic stand where the vegetables and fresh corn were displayed neatly. There was never anyone manning the stand. There was just an old tin box where you left your money for your purchases. No one ever thought to leave any less than you owed or take any more than you paid for.

In a perfect world, I would spend my summers in Maine and leave before the weather cooled to come back to South Carolina, but right now I am content that I at least have a nice, big pool in my backyard to enjoy.

I am beyond happy to say that I have finished the final book in The Hidden Realm Series.  This book was a bit of a struggle for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I was exhausted or if it’s because I was sad to say goodbye to these characters that have been a part of me for a while now.

Surrendered Moon picks right up where Awakened Moon left off and I have to say that I laughed, and cried, as I wrote the rough draft. Maximus and Marianna were a fun couple to create. Yes, Maximus is scarred by his two hundred years of torture, but Marianna almost distracts him with her bright outlook and bossy ways.

I’m hoping to release the book by the end of July and then I am going to start on a project that is…a bit different. I think it’s either going to crash and burn, or be something really special.

More on that later…

For now, I hope that you all take time to enjoy these lazy days of summer. This is one of my favorite passages about this time of year.

“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.”
—Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

 

~Shannon

Coming Out of The Dark…

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It’s funny. I actually sat here for five minutes trying to think of a title for this blog post. It feels foreign almost to be back on my blog again. I’ve been taking a bit of time off, but it’s only when I saw my last blog post was November 14, 2015 did I realize just how much time had gone by.

I had an email from a reader asking me what was up and where I’ve been. They also begged me to release Awakened Moon, book five in The Hidden Realm Series. I guess I didn’t take into account that there are actually people out there who want to read the stories I write and look forward to my next release. I suppose I’m still in the ‘Aw shucks’ phase.

So where have I been and what have I been doing?

Well, the simple answer is that I’ve been taking a much deserved break.

Enchanting Wick and Captivating Wick took a lot out of me to write. I was obsessed with Gracie and Wick’s story. I think I threw myself into them so much because I wanted to ignore what was going on around me. My father’s battle with cancer has been emotionally draining on all of us, especially him, and when his last surgery in late October was done, I was completely and utterly drained.

So, I slept. I’ve been helping my twin boys get their website, http://www.seppinrek.com , up and running. I had a wonderful holiday season, helped my parents move into a smaller more manageable house, and simply enjoyed giving my brain a rest.

But the time for me to start writing again is upon me and my refreshed spirit.

I finally have that feeling again. The insatiable need to put my words down and escape once again into a fantastical story. I must confess that I am a bit nervous to write Maximus and Marianna’s story.

I mean…she’s a virgin. If you’ve read my books you know that I have never gone down that path before.

Maximus is also complicated in a strong silent type way. He was held prisoner for two hundred years so obviously that is going to leave a mark.

And then I have to tie up all six books in a lovely little bow.

No problem.

I’m up for the challenge and I just want to thank you all for being patient with me. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think if you’re a writer then you always have something to write about, even if it is a paragraph. I do think though that creative people sometimes need to chill out and rest their constantly buzzing brains from time to time. I was reading on a writer’s group forum that I belong to all these over achievers who claim they write three or four books at a time and never need a break.

Okay. More power to you, but that doesn’t make you a better writer. I was on the seven books in a year roller coaster and I can tell you that I will never do that again. I have finally managed to come to the conclusion that what makes me a better writer is to go back to why I wanted to write a book in the first place.

I just wanted to read the stories that were in my head. Not for anyone else, but for me and if it takes a month, three months, or six then so be it. I’m not pushing myself or my body to utter exhaustion to prove a point and keep up with the other self-published authors. Interestingly enough, my four month absence has done nothing to dispel book sales since I’m selling books every day and that’s when it hit me.

A book is only as good as its writer and a writer is only as good as their powerful minds. When the mind becomes overwhelmed and overworked, the brain and body shut down, and nothing good can come from that.

Monday morning will be interesting, but I have faith in myself and I’m glad that there are still some out there that do as well.

Stay tuned…

 

~Shannon

 

Summer 2015

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I had many plans for this summer in regards to writing. I was going to finish book two of my new series and get started on the third  book. I was also exploring with the idea of a newsletter and I was truly going to focus on marketing.

All those plans went out the window when my twin boys passed their drivers license test. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but this time honored act of impending teenage freedom put me into a funk.

I don’t want to say that I’ve had writer’s block because I have my outlines all done. The story synopsis for all six books have been floating in my head for awhile, but something held me back and that something was an all knowing sense that this was the last summer my boys would be home for any length of time.

They’re sixteen. A minute ago they were six, I swear. I think the driven writer in me shut down and the protective mama kicked into overdrive. We binged on Netflix and went to the movies. I dragged one of them food shopping with me every week. We stalked Comic Con online for all the big announcements and trailers. I wanted to spend every last precious minute with them and I do not regret it one bit.

I am also beyond excited to announce another project and this one involves my sons.

About five years ago, my son Ethan, announced he wanted to make video games. Like any mother, I rolled my eyes and muttered “You and every other young boy.” I tried to be patient for this stage to pass, but to my horror it did not.

When my other son Wyatt announced last year that he and Ethan were going into business together, I was shocked. Wyatt had always been Ivy league bound and he was going to explore the world of Archaeology.

Then something magical happened. The two of them stood in their Guidance Counselor’s office and started bouncing ideas of each other in quick succession. That’s when I realized, not only was this real, but they had put a lot of thought into this project.

They had a business plan and when Ethan started telling me about all the characters he had been dreaming up for years, I listened with awe.

This kid knows what he’s talking about. He has each different phase planned out and he has background stories that put mine to shame. They both agreed to start off with writing a comic book first and they started a storyboard this summer. Wyatt is looking into graphics, while Ethan focuses on story development.

They even started their own website and it will feature their journey, as well as game reviews, movie trailers, movies, and comic analysis. Ethan even designed the logo for their company:

 

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I am so proud that I can barely contain myself. I know that they are shooting high and it is going to require a ton of work, but I believe in them.

Summer vacation is almost over. The kids start school next week and the craziness of life will begin. I know that I didn’t get any of my writing goals done, but what I did accomplish was a deeper relationship with all three of my children and for that I am thankful.

The Fairyland Queen is almost halfway done and I now have a hankering to finish the first draft. The series as a whole is starting to excite me again and I look forward to being back in the land of writing.

Check out my boys website. They’re just getting started, but I guarantee it will be a hit and who knows, maybe someday SeppinRek will be as big as DC or Marvel.

To be honest, I think it will be bigger…but I’m their mom so I have to say that!

 

http://www.seppinrek.com