Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

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

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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

 

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.

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First off, let’s take a moment to pay homage to one of my favorite movies ‘Dazed and Confused’. I love this movie. It is one of my favorites and if you can’t randomly identify or throw out quotes from this example of fine cinematic greatness, then you probably shouldn’t be my friend.

Okay, now that I have got that out of the way…

I saw something today that stunned me a bit. I was perusing the books being promoted on a few Facebook groups and I clicked on a link because the book looked interesting.

I read the synopsis and then I came to the end. I know that I am a relatively new author, but I know my way around the kindle book store and I have never ( can you hear me emphasis never?) ever, seen this before.

At the end of the book blurb, the author, wrote that if a reader is dissatisfied with the book and is tempted to give it 3 stars or less to please write her or her publisher before submitting such a review.

I’m sorry. She didn’t say please, she used the word implore. She implored you the reader not to leave a bad review.

Anyone who uses the word implore means business…that’s all I’m saying.

I was confused, shocked and I have to admit, a little amused by the plea.

I almost felt like writing a review on her book blurb. I wanted to say “Sweetie, you’re in the wrong business,” but I didn’t. Instead I have been stewing about it all afternoon.

Writing a book is hard. That is a fact that every intelligent person is aware of in this world. Publishing a book is even harder. Not only are you selling a piece of your soul for anyone to read, but you are also inviting criticism which can lead you to be brokenhearted.

It’s a terrifying proposition, but it is one you must consider before you publish. Every, single, author has had a bad review. I don’t care who you are, we all have had them and does it sting? Yes, of course, but I believe it is what also makes us be a better writer.

We all know about the buying of bogus reviews. If I see a book that has 300 four or five star reviews with not a single naysayer then I am now suspicious. I hate it. I wish I wasn’t weary, but I am now.

I wish I could speak to all the readers who didn’t like one of my books, but I can’t and you know what? It’s okay. I realize some people may not like profanity and graphic sex scenes and that’s why I write a disclaimer. If I see a review that mentions it, then I have to admit, I don’t lose sleep over their words because I’m honest about what I put out there.

My early reviews mentioned typos and whatnot so I fixed them. I read the criticism and agreed. I finally admitted that I needed help and I couldn’t do it on my own.

I took the words to heart and I am a much better writer now.

I have had two one star reviews. Now, I don’t think that’s bad considering I have published seven books, but boy it sucked to read that they thought my story was silly.

There’s no other word for it. It sucked. Big time.

Those are the times you put on your big girl panties and move on with a smile.

I’m not trying to make fun of or bash this author. I know how hard it is to get those bad reviews, but trust me when I say that at the end of the day, those reviews are what makes us stronger as authors.

There’s a part of me that wants to reach out to this author and tell her how I feel. I wish I could convey to her in the nicest way possible that frankly it sounded a bit pathetic and that she doesn’t need to persuade people to like her book, but she needs to believe it herself.

Part of being an adult is that we can move forward even after hearing or seeing something that makes us upset or hurt. We acknowledge our faults and try to use them for personal growth.

I would much rather hear a person speak the truth than listen to their lies. The thought of begging someone to like my books is ridiculous. My stories are a part of me and if you don’t like them then that’s cool.

I like them and in the end that is all that matters.

Write for yourself and no one else…have I mentioned that, like, a million times already?

 

 

 

 

 

Go Fund Yourself: A Realistic View on Self-Publishing Costs

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So I have noticed something interesting the last few weeks and I actually took time out of my insane writing schedule to address this particular topic.

I came across several different posts on Facebook, either posted by an aspiring author or friends/family of an author, that has set up a Go Fund Me account.

I was shocked to say the least, especially after reading the more in-depth funding page that tells the story, and asks for money. I’m going to be honest, the ones set up by family or friends, are very sweet and I’m not trying to be bitchy, but some of the pleas were a little ridiculous.

I actually read one that wanted people to donate money because they needed it for an editor, a proofreader, a beta reader, and an eBook format editor. They also asked for money so that they could quit their job to focus solely on their writing.

Oh, and did I mention that most of them hadn’t actually finished writing their books yet.

Say whaaattt?

I scratched my head over this and I swear I now have a new wrinkle forming on my forehead after scrunching up my face when I read these Go Fund Me pages.

Let’s break down the actual costs, but first I’m going to tell you aspiring self-publishing authors a secret.

It didn’t cost me a damn thing to publish my first book.

Okay, now that we got that admission out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

 

1) The most important thing is to….drum roll, please, FINISH YOUR DAMN BOOK FIRST BEFORE YOU THINK ABOUT PUBLISHING COSTS.

*Exhale*

Before you or anyone else of your loving family or friends sets up a Go Fund Me page, why don’t you finish writing your first draft? I get it, I really do understand what it takes to write a book. I’ve written seven and I’m almost finished with my eighth.

I have three kids. I know how hard it is to find time to write and I have been known to stay up into the wee hours of the morning because it was the only way I could get any quiet time. I know what it’s like to drag your ass out of bed after a few hours sleep.

I get it. I’m an author and guess what? There are thousands of us in this world and we all find the time to write because it’s what drives us to the brink of sleep deprivation and insanity. I’m sorry if you have a full time job, two kids, and a mortgage to pay. I know other authors who are in the same boat and they have never even thought to ask for money to help them on this journey.

But, I digress. So again finish your book first and then worry about the costs.

 

2) If you have finished your manuscript, then I have a tip for you. Put it in a drawer or hide the file on your computer and walk away for a few weeks or even a month.

See? I just saved you a bunch of money right there.

 

3) After you have taken some time off from your writing, go back over it and revise and edit several times.

Again, cost savings…huge.

 

4) When you are ready to throw up if you read another word you have written then you are ready to think about the future.

Now is the time to think about self-publishing vs. regular publishing. What route you decide is your decision and your decision alone.

I chose self-publishing for a few reasons.

-I was a little scared to death of submitting my work because it felt so personal to me,

and..

-I’m a control freak.

This will take a few weeks and the thinking process is entirely free!

 

5) If you chose the regular route of mainstream publishing, be aware that you will need to have a query letter. This is a one page letter in which you try to sell yourself and your book.

This wonderful one page letter can also be the source of many nightmares and plunge you into the depths of self-doubt so great that you will question your ability as a writer.

Also, be aware that the unwritten rule is that you can only query one publisher or agent at a time so get comfy.

 

This could save you thousands because it could take you a few months or a few years before getting a contract or generate any serious interest.

 

6) Self-publishing cost’s are all over the spectrum. You can go high-dollar or you can find some short cuts to ease the cost.

-Editor. The average cost for an editor is about $100 a page. If you have a 300 page book it can be out of reach, especially for most first timers.

There are some ways to save though. You can check Craigslist or run an ad yourself. Always ask for references if you do this though. You can do a Google search. You can check Goodreads as well. There are several people that do this on the side and most of them seem to be graduate students in the English Literature field.

You can also check with local colleges and grade schools. Again there might be teachers that want to make a little extra cash.

There are many different software programs as well, but I stick with Word. I thought that I could edit all by myself and that was a disaster. I am lucky to have a mother who worked as a paralegal for forty years and she slashes my manuscript as good as any pro editor out there.

-Copy Editor.

I actually think a copy editor is all you need if you self-publish. They focus on grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation.

Average cost is around $30-$50 an hour. For an 80,000 word manuscript, you’re looking at $1000-$1200.

Again, look around because you might be able to slash the cost in half.

 

-Proofreader.

A proofreader goes over the manuscript after the editor to see if there are any glaring mistakes.

I see no use for them. You should be able to do it yourself.

 

-Beta Reader.

You absolutely do not need to hire a Beta reader. If you have friends or family that you trust to give you an honest opinion of your work then that is all you need.

If you don’t want to let anyone you know read your book, then think about joining a writing group. They have them in almost any town and you can also check out your local library for book clubs that might be interested.

 

-eBook Format Editor.

These guys can run anywhere from $199-$1999.

Look, I’m not a computer genius, but even I was able to format my first book. It takes time to get the kinks out, but after you do one, it does get easier.

 

7) Marketing.

I hate promoting. I am the worst at it, but I do it from time to time…moaning and groaning

First thing you need is a website and start blogging. The cost is free, but you will have to shell out about $20 bucks a year for your domain.

Second, get on Twitter. It is the BEST place for authors. You can connect with great people who are going through the same writing woes as you and everybody I have talked with are always very supportive.

Third, start a Facebook page. That’s pretty self-explanatory.

 

8) Don’t quit your day job!

It can take years for an author to really make any decent money. I know that you have stars in your eyes as you type away and dream of fame and fortune, but seriously, get your head out of your ass.

Can you make a good living? Yes, you can, but it doesn’t happen overnight so before you set up a Go Fund Me page, realize that no one wants to support you financially for the next several years.

Trust me, the lure of you being an author, will wear off quick for them.

 

In conclusion, yes it could cost an aspiring author thousands of dollars, but it doesn’t have to! The most important worry you should have is that you finish your book. You can take several months off and still be left staring at your computer screen.

I understand that there may be some great people out there who want to help, but the greatest assistance you can give an author is your support emotionally.

I have always said that if you want to publish your book, you will find a way. I think the best part of being an author, as far as publishing goes, is figuring it all out on your own because at the end of the day, no one cares more about your book than you do.

 

One last note..

Finish your book first before you hit me or anyone else up for money!