Category Archives: The Writing Process

Monthly Writing Update

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Yes, it’s been forever since I have written. I have no excuses except that I have been flat out busy with life. I have so much coming up in the coming months, both personal and professional, that to sit down and compose a blog post has been difficult.

So, what’s been going on…

I have been taking a break from my own writing to help my sons get their comic book novel career off the ground. The three of us have been collaborating on everything from content to book cover design. Their first book, Darq was released a month ago and I couldn’t be more proud.

 

Their next book, Rexwind, is coming out soon and they already have three, yes three books, in the fryer so to speak.

I can also announce that they have asked me to write one of their characters and I am excited, nervous, and slightly anxious. I have never written a character before that wasn’t my own creation, nor have I ever had to follow a certain storyline or writing style.

Apparently I need to keep it at around 100 pages, so this is going to be interesting.

Once I get that written, I am going to start on my next book, and I am literally bouncing up and down in my chair to write Jasper. You got to meet him in The Wicked Thorn and I can tell you that his story is extremely different from anything I have ever done.

I have another announcement to make and that is, I will be working on a second cookbook! This past winter was my first foray into the football pool world and every Sunday, Red Zone was on the t.v. and I was in the kitchen making football snacks. When Superbowl came around, my family voted on their top ten and I now have an abundance of appetizer recipes floating around that I want to share with everyone.

Oh and my boys are going to be starting college this fall…needless to say, it is going to be busy around the Barczak household.

I am also going to to be doing a huge book promotion for all of my books, so keep an eye out for that!

 

Much love~

Shannon

 

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The Wicked Thorn Part One

 

It’s almost here.

I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.

The Wicked Thorn started taking shape in my mind almost a year ago and to see it finally be ready to publish is insane to me. I never imagined that I would write such a novel. I was perfectly happy to continue writing in the paranormal romance genre for a long time.

I enjoy it and I think I’m pretty darn good at it, but sometimes ideas grab a hold of you, and they refuse to leave. I have talked about how and why this book came to fruition. You all know my twin boys are in the comic book business.

Did I ever really think I would create my own vigilante universe? Absolutely not.

 

Have I been worried since I started writing this book that people may think it’s too far from the norm for me and hate it?

One hundred percent.

In the end though, if I am going to be the writer I want to be and practice what I preach, I must abide by  my own mantra, and that is, write for yourself.

In a way though, I didn’t just write it for myself. I wrote this book for my boys and for my daughter, who loves superheroes as much as her brothers. I wrote it because I’m the mom who takes my kids to the first night showings of every comic book movie and I also went along with my sons to see Batman: The Killing Joke in the theater. Netflix premieres of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage? Yup, you’re staying home so we can binge watch.

This is my life and I am immersed in it every single day. Discussions on what is happening in the comic book, gaming, and movie world are a daily staple in this household. I help write and edit content on my boys website and I also have been guiding them as they start the process of publishing their first novels.

I suppose it’s really not that surprising that I would want to add my own twist on this genre. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much out there to compare it to and I find myself stressing out over how to classify and tag this novel on Amazon.

Contemporary romance/ crime romance/action romance?

But enough about that. Let’s get into the good stuff.

So, who is The Wicked Thorn?

I suppose he’s a cross between Batman and Nightwing. He’s not as dark as Bruce Wayne, but he does love his gadgets and is unmatched in hand to hand combat. He also loves his city and he is determined to stop it from rotting from the inside out as it is plagued in crime and corruption from the recent economic downturn.

This book is set in Boston and I had fun using it as a background for my story. I adore the historic city and growing up only a few hours away, I have walked those streets many of times. I checked the map as I was writing and memories of my numerous visits would always make me smile.

I also loved writing the female heroine. Bry McKenna is unlike any character I have ever created and it was a joy to write her point of view. I also had the best time getting to know her family, the more I wrote her story.

It wasn’t all hearts and roses. I second guessed myself all the time. I sent out an emergency email to my friend Cathy, who reads my books, and I knew I could count on her to be blunt with her honesty.

Her thoughts were that she never had read anything like this, and while she has seen movies similar, she had never actually read it in a book form.

She also told me she loved it and not to stop writing it.

This was the first book that I have ever been insecure about and I think it was because I didn’t have the paranormal aspects to fall back on. I also spent almost an equal amount of time between the male and female protagonists.

Plus, there is a lot of action, which as you know, is my Achilles heel.

I pray that my readers give this book a shot and I also hope that they love it as much as I do. I have no intentions of leaving this world I just started to create and really just want everyone to come along for the ride with me.

But, it’s back to formatting and next time I will talk more about where I want this series to go and the challenges I will have to overcome the further I get into this exciting new project!

 

~Shannon

 

Making the Superhero Leap

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“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates

 

“Where have you been?

“What have you been up to?”

“Are you writing?”

When is your next book coming out?”

 

Jeez, you take a few months off…

I’m joking. It actually warms my heart to receive emails or Facebook messages asking me if I’m okay and what’s been going on with me. To put it simply, I have 17 year old twin boys who are graduating next May and those that have been through the dreaded senior year of high school with your child, know exactly what I’m talking about.

Senior pictures, college campus tours, pouring over course catalogs, starting the application process, and of course the fantastic forms known as FAFSA…times 2 for me, which is just awesome.

I told my husband that I was going to focus on them and that’s what I have been doing up until last week or so.

I couldn’t help it. The laptop was calling and I started on my next novel The Wicked Thorn. It took me a few days to write the first chapter, which is unusual for me, but I powered through and got it done.

Now I can’t stop and to be honest, I don’t want to stop. I’m scared and excited to write this book because it is unlike anything I have ever written and it’s also unlike anything out there on the market.

Why are you switching genres and writing about superheroes some may ask? I am finally here to tell you why.

Get comfy.

My boys have been obsessed with superheroes since they were four. I always thought it was a stage they would grow out of like most kids, but I was very wrong. In the sixth grade my son Ethan told me he wanted to be a writer and forgive me, but I kind of blew him off. I just didn’t think he knew what he really wanted to be and I pushed him to explore another avenue of interest…he ignored this advice of course, and I am grateful he did.

A few years later, his freshmen year in high school to be exact, we had a life changing moment. It was an ordinary day. He and I were alone in the car going shopping and out of nowhere he started to talk to me about his passion for writing, most importantly, writing about superheroes.

I had no clue as he rambled on for 45 minutes just how much thought he had put into his plans and I was taken aback by the fact he had not only created comic book characters that were pretty cool, but he had dreamed up a whole comic universe with different phases.

One year later, his twin brother Wyatt expressed an interest in joining his brother on his path to world comic book domination, complete with games and hopefully in the distant future, movies.

And so SeppinRek Entertainment was born.

Not many people know, but I am the world’s most underpaid secretary. I help write and edit all of their articles, answer emails, e.t.c, but what I also do is participate in daily conversations about comic books, movies, games and so much more.

What started out as a passing interest to maintain a relationship with my growing young men turned into a major focus of my life. I can’t escape it because I am immersed in it on a daily basis.

Every single person marvels at my relationship with my boys. Yes, we are ridiculously close and we spend a lot of time together. My daughter is also now fully interested and she plans on working for her brothers one day with her own line of superhero girls.

My husband thinks we’re all geeks, but he’s trying to get into it as much as he can.

Switching genres from paranormal romance to I-Have-No-Idea-What-To-Even-Call-It, contemporary romance/superhero novel(?) is a big leap for me and yes, I am scared to death it is going to crash and burn.

But I am also extremely excited and the best part is, I have two experts living under my roof who have actually encouraged me and been my greatest inspirations. We have sat together and thrown ideas around for months.

Not only has my new journey down this path been incredible, but my sons have also started their writing adventure. Ethan is only a few chapters away from being finished with his first graphic novel, but Wyatt finished his last week.

He wouldn’t let me read it when he was writing and the other night he FINALLY let me read 2 whole pages.

I burst into tears when I was finished. His writing blew me away, but it was the fact that my son, my little superhero (as we used to call Wyatt since he was always the first to do everything) wrote a book.

I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.

The Wicked Thorn is not just my next book. It’s my new lease on life and I owe it all to my boys. I had planned to do a trilogy, but now I am not going to limit myself to just 3 books. I may conjure up a few more superheroes, who knows?

 

~Shannon

 

 

 

A Writer’s Top Ten: Behavior & Perks

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I’m always excited to do a blog post with fellow writer Valerie Day Sanchez. Today we are going to explore our shared opinions on being a writer and what that means.

Being a writer is like no other job. It is fraught with a plethora of emotions and quirks that are unique to the profession. Valerie and I decided to do a combined top ten list that describes each individual aspect.

Unsurprisingly, we both share many attributes and this is probably the easiest collaboration we have ever done together,

 

Val’s Take 

10. Isolation: I have this intense desire to be alone so I can finish my novel but that rarely if ever is granted. So I have to find ways to be alone while surrounded my others. Headphones, Pandora, YouTube,  (in case I need a particular song on repeat to get the chapter completed) are gold. My family knows not to talk to mean if I have a pen, paper, and headphones in.

9. Comfort and ultimately extremely unhealthy food eaten in mass quantity: There’s lots of chocolate and popcorn, because there is no way I’m stopping to eat unless it’s very simple and provides lots of calories to keep me going. If I can be writing why would I be cooking? I pack snacks and refreshments so that all I need to do is take a quick trip to the kitchen to refuel rather than stop.

8. PJs: There’s no time to get dressed and besides writing for me me means burrowing in my cave and not interacting with the outside world.

7. Insomnia: Sleep is my reward for when the book is done (I know Arianna Huffington wouldn’t approve). Early mornings when no one else is awake yet and very late at night when the rest of the house is quiet but my mind is screaming pivotal plot points are my favorite times to write. These times of day i don’t feel guilty for ignoring my family because they are far away in dreamland.

6. Obsessive: I become hyper focused in a way that is borderline sickness but I can’t help, it, it’s much more powerful than me. I think about my novel all the time, the characters, where they end it up, how they get there, who they meet along the way, the why of it all is always present until it’s published.

My Take

5. Daydreaming. Is there any job in the world that includes, and is almost a requirement, to stare off into space as we dream up stories? I love to put on my headphones and think of my story as I turn it into a live action movie in my head. If I can see it play out then I know I’m ready to write it down.

4. Freedom. There is a delicious sense of freedom being a writer. We are not bound to do the same thing every single day for the next thirty years. We can write what we want, when we want too. If we don’t want to write romance, we can write gritty science fiction. We can expand young minds in one children’s book to fouling it up the next time with an erotic thriller.

3. We own the word Crazy. Everyone knows writers are nuts. We isolate ourselves. We talk to ourselves. We create unrealistic realities and bury ourselves in them to the point where we almost can’t find our way out. We’re proud of it and where you see a straight jacket in our future, we see a potential story we can write in the asylum as we mingle amongst our peeps.

2. The accomplishment of writing a book is like no other feeling. I don’t know if it’s because few people who start actually finish or if it’s because when you do finish writing a book you’re so exhausted, but typing out the words ‘The End’ is almost indescribable. It’s an euphoric feeling of epic magnitude to us writers and we remember each and every time we finish our novels.

  1. Identity. Yes, we isolate ourselves and live in dream worlds. We make up stories and imagine details that you may not read about, but we know are there. ( I actually wrote a whole paragraph one time about a mailbox, but decided to cut it. I still remember it though). We create characters that become our friends and we laugh with them, and cry with them. We know their secrets and we may or may not share them with you, but they will always be with us

We forgo sleep because we have this aching need to not only get the story out of our heads, but because we desperately want to share them with our readers. Our diet is akin to a 7th grader being left on their own for a weekend.

We daydream. We crash. We burn. We straddle the line of insanity all while trying to maintain normality in front of our kids and families.

We obsess about everything we have ever written and we do this because we are so focused on trying to convey our stories to the best of our ability.

It’s emotionally and physically draining sometimes, but at the end of the day though, I wouldn’t trade being a writer for any other job in the world.

 

Want more Val? Check out her blog and books!

http://www.valeriedaysanchez.blogspot.com

/https://twitter.com/valdaysanchez

http://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Day-Sanchez/e/B00HFG0JDA

So, you want to write a book…

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I think the question that I, and probably most writers, get frequently is how do I write a book. I must confess that I’m not sure how to answer that question. I kind of feel like, in the words of my dad, you either poop or get off the pot.

I’m sure there are a billion articles out there floating on the internet which addresses this subject in detail. I am certain that there have been hundreds of award winning books written by impressive individuals.

I do not claim to be technically inclined when it comes to writing, grammar, or even at times spelling, but there is one thing I do have in abundance of at my fingertips.

I have quite the imagination.

I can’t pinpoint when it started. I remember the woods behind my house transformed into an entire town and I had houses, stores and even a small parking lot for my bike.

I never needed to be entertained by my parents because I had more than enough entertainment going on inside my mind and I always loved to make up stories in my head.

It’s actually something I never gave much thought to and I rarely thought I could parlay my stories into a career or would it become my driving ambition. It has just always been there and when I finally realized that maybe I should share my stories, I balked because I had no idea how to even go about it in any way, shape, or form.

Until Isle of Skye.

It was a story that I had to get out of my head and literally one morning I started writing a brief synopsis before diving into chapter outlines. I didn’t know what I was doing and I had no clue on how this would change the course of my life.

I just did it.

The finished project was riddled with mistakes and errors, but the guts were there, as well as, my heart.

Writing a book is not easy. It’s like there is a shadowy figure looming over you, sucking out every part of you, and pulling it onto  a blank screen until there is nothing left, but your words and your soul.

It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally.

But when you are done, it’s the most exhilarating feeling that any creative person can possibly have come over them.

The fact of the matter is this…

No one can tell you how to write a book. There are no articles or five hundred page novels that can give you the step by step process. There are no workshops that you can attend or writing groups that you can join that will ever propel you to start on your novel.

Those are all helpful tools, but in the end, there is only one thing that you can do to write a book.

Sit down and start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to make sense. The more you write, the more organized you will become, but don’t worry about that right off the bat.

Start telling your story and watch how it comes to life the more you type. I guarantee you that there is nothing you have ever read or heard of in a lecture that will compare to those first wondrous moments when the words start to take shape.

So, you want to write a book?

Here’s what you’ll need.

A good story, a dash of courage, and a belief in yourself that no one can ever take from you.

You’ll encounter haters along the way. You will be overwhelmed by the underwhelming non-support you receive ( even from your own family). You will be pushed to the brink of sanity sometimes and sleep will become a vague memory.

But just know that when you are done, none of that will matter, because you can walk with your head held high.

The phrase, ‘I want to write a book’, will become, ‘I wrote a book’, and boy, it is a phrase you can say with every ounce of confidence and swagger because you did something not a lot of people start or even finish.

So, what are you waiting for?

 

~Shannon

Editing, Writing, and More

 

I finished writing Awakened Moon and now I am stranded in no man’s land. The manuscript is off to my editor and the question of do I start the next novel begins to form in my mind.

The last book in The Hidden Realm Series is practically written. The plot, notes, and outline are firmly filed in my scattered brain and all I have to do is type out the words.

I have done the whole writing a new book while editing my current book at the same time and it’s not easy. I do however have a new found drive within me to wrap this series up and I am once again going to embark on the grueling path.

I also have another secret.

As many of you know, I hate to talk about a new project before I even start writing, but I am way too excited not to share some insight into my thought process. I had an idea for a contemporary novel. I really wanted to provide my readers with a more realistic take on the erotic, BDSM culture that has dominated the virtual shelves.

I suppose I wanted to try my hand at it because some of them are fairly ridiculous and I wanted to bring things down to my snarky level.

But then something changed. An idea that hit me like a ton of bricks and now I can’t stop thinking about it.

I guess it’s only natural. I live with two comic book geeks ( http://www.seppinrek.com ). It was inevitable that I would create my own characters and stories that mirror that genre.

Before you get too nervous or worry about my state of mind, I want to be clear that I am not writing a comic book.

I am however going to create my own vigilante.

Yup, I am going to do a realistic take on Batman.

 

I am a little nervous that my loyal readers who have embraced my paranormal romance books will not be happy, but in a way it is going to be a fantasy.

It’s also going to be darker and grittier than anything I have ever done. I still will inject humor into the story, but this is definitely out of my comfort zone and I kind of like that. The idea of doing something different that will challenge me makes me a tad giddy. I also believe that, at this point in my writing career, it is a perfect time for me to branch out a bit.

But before I start that journey I have to finish The Hidden Realm Series.

Awakened Moon has a tentative release date of April 28, 2016. I’ll have a firmer date when I get it back from the editor. I would like to shoot for late June to release Surrendered Moon, but we’ll play that by ear for now.’

I also have a children’s chapter book that I am working on with my daughter that will be out this summer as well. Oh, yeah, and helping my boys with their first graphic novel, as well as touring colleges for them and starting the process of loans, scholarships and senior year events.

 

 

 

Yes, it is a lot going on, but I am looking forward to this next year. There are going to be many changes and I might have to do a stint at the loony bin, I mean spa retreat, but I think it’s going to be entertaining to say the least.

No one has ever accused me of being boring, so I have that going for me.

 

~Shannon

The Editor Dilemma…a Collaborative Tale with Val Day-Sanchez

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When I usually collaborate with Val, I post my view first and then post her take on whatever subject we are writing about, but today I am doing things differently. I am letting Val’s article be proudly displayed front and center.

 

Val’s Take:

As an Indie Author you are in charge of creating, publishing, writing, editing, selling, promoting really doing any and everything associated with writing a book.  So if you are like me and have a family, a job, (or two or three) you find yourself seeing your shortcomings.  Like you may be great a weaving a tale, but you may be awful at sighting grammatical errors so you think; “hey I’m trying to move my family to a new city, find my 5 year old a school, rent out our house, start a new job, finish a novel-while publishing another, I think I’ll hire someone to help me edit, it’s not my favorite thing to do, and I really don’t have time.”  So you do some research, find someone that won’t break the bank and get your book edited.  After all the  first go around it went great!  You’re reviews were exemplary they made you doubt that you put something out there that was so well received and then the third book happens and your editor screws you over.

They send you a fake edited manuscript, guarantee their work, and you believe them and publish it.  In case you’re thinking Valerie why did you trust them?!  It’s because as an indie author I have met amazing people from around the world.  All of which are not very affluent, and so dedicated to their work rather than the profit, you start to feel that you are a part of a tight-knit community that supports one another, that wants to see you thrive.  They too are also less concerned with money but completely engaged in the art that is being produced, so you trust people as if we are all intertwined in this creative community that looks out for one another and then you realize that there are still sharks.

These sharks want your money and they don’t care how many years you have waited to pursue your dream.  They don’t care how your only wish was to see your work in print, to have your name among authors, your heroes.  This carelessness leads to them giving you horrible work that you then publish and receive a backlash of reviews for, because the small fan base you have managed to acquire feel disappointed and betrayed that you would put something out that was so unpolished.  The readers don’t realize that you made a mistake and trusted the wrong person.

This blog is an apology as well as a rant as well as a warning.  If you want to pursue your dreams be careful who you ask to aid you on your journey.  I asked fellow author Shannon Barczak if she to has experienced such woes during her journey in self-publishing and she had this to say.

 

My Take:

 

Val’s view on this is written eloquently and with passion. I felt like raising my fist in joyful solidarity when she emailed it to me.

I am not going to be as nice as Val on this subject because quite frankly, I am ticked off on her behalf, and I also have a tremendous amount of guilt weighing heavily on my shoulders.

Several months ago, I found a reasonably priced editor. I checked out her website and her references. I crossed my fingers and sent her my manuscript, as well as, half her required payment.

At first glance, I thought she did a good job, but then I noticed a few discrepancies and I was disappointed. I chalked it up to a lesson learned and moved on.

If I acquired any useful knowledge about the experience is that she used the Macro widget on Word to plug in overused words and adverbs. I, being a newbie, had no idea about this wonderful invention, so when I became aware that I could do that by myself, I was psyched.

In my disappointment and new found Word prowess I had forgotten that I had mentioned her to Val. I saw that she used her as an editor and I figured that she had better luck than me so I wasn’t going to mention my experience because I didn’t want to cast any doubts in her mind if she was happy with her choice of editors.

When I received Val’s email describing her recent disappointing situation, I wanted to email this person myself on Val’s behalf, and write a profanity laced letter.

Val touched on something that I think is extremely accurate. As an Indie Author, we do come into contact with great people that are in the same boat as us and we form an immediate kinship. We do support one another and when one of our own gets the shaft, we take up arms and batten down the literary hatches as one.

I think what is important to convey to everyone, is that as an Indie Author, we wear many hats and it is always a relief to find someone that offers us a service to help make our lives easier.

Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are or how vigilante we are in checking references and reviews, we can still be taken in by someone with no conscience.

The simple reason is greed. You can spout off different excuses, but it all comes down to money in the end.

All I have to say is, shame on you.

How dare you take a writer’s manuscript and not do what you say you are going to do.

A copy of a writer’s book is like an extension of themselves. In some way, it is our baby, our child that we nurtured from nothing but a thought and developed them into full blown characters with a history, as well as, a future.

When we give it to someone else to read or edit, we are trusting that person to help make it better. It’s like when we send our kids off to school and we pray that they are kept safe, and that they receive the love and attention they deserve.

To have someone that poses as an editor not fulfill their obligation can be crushing and I have to believe in a little thing known as karma because Val did not deserve that nor did her book.

If you have read my blog posts or know me personally, you might have an idea on what I did when learning this news.

This editor received my favorite kind of greeting when I pulled up her email…my trusty middle finger.