Isle of Night Musings & Playlist

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As many of you know, I am moving. Yes, the day has finally arrived and I will be off the grid for at least a week. I’m not sure how I will survive but I did want to talk about my new book, ‘Isle of Night’, one more time before I’m off to complete the arduous task of an 1100 mile journey that will take me to my new home.

The other day I sat down and read ‘Isle of Night’ from start to finish. No notebook. No pens or pencils. After editing for the third time, I wanted to try to absorb it as a finished novel. It’s important to do this even if you’re not done editing yet. I think you can so caught up in the whole process of editing and revising that you sometimes lose sight of the big picture.

I was amazed at how different the book appeared to me. I have been so obsessed with editing every word and every punctuation mark that I haven’t really let the story come together as a whole in my mind yet. I also got very excited. I really love this book. From the first sentence to the last, I had a big grin on my face. To be honest, I have no worries now. I could care less if a friend or family member reads some of the steamier scenes and thinks ‘Oh my God, Shannon wrote this’. Those fears are now behind me buried deep in the past.

“Isle of Night’ is a really good book. I know I shouldn’t say that. I realize that it sounds like I’m being over confident about my story but I can’t help it, I think it Rocks the Casbah and then some. Yes I did just reference ‘The Clash’ song from the eighties. Like my character Willa, I too, will break out singing one or two lines from songs every now and then.

I really wanted to also include some of the songs that influenced me while writing ‘Isle of Night’. I love music. I listen to all kinds of different genres depending on my mood every day. I also thought it would be fun to tease everyone with the songs that set the tone for the book. Each one is a reflection on how I was feeling and what I imagined was playing in the background of the book when I wrote certain scenes.

Listen to them, get in the mood and more importantly get ready for book two’s release on March 27th!

Until next week…

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Playlist:

” Awake my soul” by Mumford & Sons

” Only if for a night” by Florence + the machines

” In my veins” by Andrew Belle

” Be still” by The Fray

” Turn to stone” by Ingrid Michaelson

“Holding and letting go” by Ross Copperman

“Demons” by Imagine Dragons

” Glory and Gore” by Lorde

” Do I wanna know” by Arctic Monkeys

“Afraid” by The neighborhood

“Addicted” by Kelly Clarkson

“Beautiful is gone” by The Ruse

“Blister in the sun” by Violent Femmes

“It goes like this” by Thomas Rhett

“The Kill” by Thirty seconds to mars

“Let’s go” by Calvin Harris

“Lovers Carvings” by Bibio

“Set free” by Katie Gray

“Someone to watch over” by Renee Olsted

Last but not least, is the song that inspired me to write this story from the beginning.

“Closer” by Kings of Leon

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Introducing Valerie Day Sanchez

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A few weeks ago another author on Twitter reached out to me about guest blogging. We chatted for a bit and we both decided to interview one another. Over the course of several emails we also got to know each other a little and I was amazed about how much we had in common. We are both fairly new authors trying to navigate our way into this new world, we both are finishing up our second books in a trilogy, and we are also real down to earth moms with crazy pups.

I always think that it is pretty special when you meet someone who you feel like you have known for a long time and I immediately connected with Valerie. Not only are we interviewing each another ( you can find mine on her blog http://valeriedaysanchez.blogspot.com/ ) but we have decided to collaborate with one another for a monthly column that chronicles our different but similar experiences as writers.

I had so much fun doing this and I want to thank Valerie for taking the time to write an article about me and for sitting down to answer my questions to her. I do want to put out a quick disclaimer, I have never been interviewed nor have I ever interviewed anyone so this was a great experience. For those of you that know me well, you’ll see the last question is so me. Sorry Valerie, not only did I have to ask it, I HAD to put in your answer!

So without further adieu please welcome an amazing author and my new friend Valerie Day Sanchez.

1) How did you come up with the idea for your book, ‘Harlow Whittaker & The Soothsayers?

The characters were all inspired by my friends that I met while I was in college. The bond I formed with them was so strong because of the time that I met them. I had just moved away from home and was figuring out who I was and they helped me with that. I think I was very lost at the time and they showed me that there was a place where I belonged by just being myself. A lot like how Harlow is meeting her three protectors at a pivotal time in her life.

2) What research did you have to do for your book?

The connection to family is a major factor with Harlow because she is asked to leave her world and go find the Soothsayers Council and she is missing her family throughout the book. One of the most important relationships that Harlow is constantly reminded of is the one between her and her father, they bonded over woodworking. I know nothing about woodworking so I did have to research that, along with archery. The Archers are all these badass’s with different bows, and I don’t have too much experience with Archery. So some time and research went into that so that the fight scenes were believable and actually possible.

3) Living in the Southwest, do you find yourself inspired by your surroundings?

Constantly, I love to take my kids on walks and when I completed Harlow 1 I was living in the country and would walk farm fields for hours a week and that directly influenced the setting of the first book. Not to mention Harlow is from the southwest and she often describes the climate and the seasons of New Mexico.

4)What is the most surprising thing you have learned in the writing process?

Just that I can actually complete such a daunting task- writing a trilogy.

5) What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Probably that each of my books is outlined on an old store receipt, or whatever scrap of paper that I dug out of my purse at the time that the ideas started pouring in.

6) What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?

I despise editing, because I always start hefty re-writes instead of just scanning for grammar issues.

7) I adored your blog post, ‘Love letter to my sons’, how do you deal with the realities of life and fit in writing? Do you ever have the dreaded Mother’s Guilt?

My kids always come first, so no matter what I’m doing I will stop and tend to them. It has made me a quick writer, because I have to hurry and jot something down before someone starts asking for a snack. Also in terms of Mother’s Guilt, I just try and remind myself that if I’m not happy then my boys won’t be happy either. And writing makes me happy. Moms and Dads need time to themselves.

8) Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

J.K. Rowling, I love love love Harry Potter. Barbara Kingslover because she’s from the Southwest as well and just an amazing author.

9) Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

Write because you love it, and write as if no one is ever going to read it. That way your aren’t plagued with expectations and other’s opinions.

10) Book two is coming out soon, any juicy tidbits?

Harlow Whittaker & The Apprentice is due out this Spring and all I will say is that it picks up right where the first one left off.

11) What is the weirdest thing you have ever googled?

You may not want to put this on your blog, but my husband and I watch a lot of MSNBC’s Lock Up Raw/Extended Stay (a docuseries about life in prison) and they kept talking about fifi’s and we had to google it. BIG REGRETS LOL DON’T DO IT

Links:

http://www.valeriedaysanchez.blgospot.com

http://www.amazon.com/author/valeriedaysanchez
https://www.facebook.com/harlowwhittakertrilogy

About the Author…in her own words

Valerie Day-Sanchez received both her B.A. and M.A. in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University. She works as a part-time college instructor and has two sons who keep her quite busy. During her free time she likes to give the characters in her mind worlds to live in, which is a slightly off-putting way of saying that she loves to write.
Her passion of the desert southwest is often depicted in her writing.
Writing Y.A. Fantasy is new to her but she is loving every minute of it

Isle of Night Blurb

I finally got the blurb done for ‘Isle of Night’. I wanted to put it up on Amazon but of course since I am just a lowly indie author I can’t do it yet without setting a price.

Really Amazon? All I wanted to do was put up my book cover, release date and blurb for my very few loyal fans but NOOOO..they won’t let me do that. Like I’m going to charge someone .99 to download a blurb for my book. So instead of screaming obscenities at the computer I decided to roll with it and post it here on my blog with a smile on my face.

Yeah, I think anyone who knows me well, knows what I really am waving in front of the computer screen.

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Isle of night is the second book in the Skye Trilogy

Release date: March 27, 2014

Several months have passed since Willa McCormack, a bakery owner from Yuma, AZ, was told she was a powerful Gypsy-Fae princess and journeyed to the Isle of Skye. As she tries to open her new business and get ready for the Fae’s arrival to the Isle, new dangers lurk at every turn.

While she tries to uncover clues about a dangerous enemy and find the weapons that can kill him, she also has to deal with her intense feelings for her Guardian, Mathias, a vampire of light.

Join Willa, an unlikely smart ass heroine, as she navigates this magical world and tries to save her new home from being plunged into eternal darkness.

Isle of Night Cover & Release Date

I am so excited to show everyone the cover for my new book! I’ve been slaving over it for awhile now and I finally got it exactly the way I want it to look. I am completely obsessed with this cover. At one point I had to walk away because I was overthinking it all too much. Fonts, background color, text color…it’s truly enough to drive a person to drink. When I was done, I had goose bumps. I’m sure there are millions of better book covers out there but this one is mine. Not only that, this was for my second book.

I did it! I wrote a second book. Honestly, besides my three amazing children, I’ve never felt this way about anything I’ve ever done before. Some days I still have to pinch myself. I actually chased my dream and it is coming to life right before my eyes. Not that it has been easy by any means. There have been plenty of days and late nights where I have wanted to just give up. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to those feelings because there is nothing that compares to seeing your name on a book cover.

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This book has been an absolute joy to write and I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished. I have said since the first day that I started writing ‘Isle of Night’ that this experience was a much more relaxed one than when I started my first book ‘ Isle of Skye’. I’m a lot more comfortable and confident in my writing, as well as, in my story.

‘Isle of Night’, the second book in the Skye trilogy, will be released on March 27, 2014. Look for it on Amazon! If you haven’t read book one yet, ‘Isle of Skye’ is available now.

http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Skye-Trilogy-Shannon-Barczak-ebook/dp/B00H1C3D9K/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392525569&sr=1-3&keywords=isle+of+skye

Editing by a novice

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I know what your all thinking. Editing advice from me? I can hear the guffaws and cackles from the peanut gallery. After my first book I was determined to be a better editor. I know that I am far from a professional but I have learned a great deal these past few months. After I finished writing my first draft of book two, ‘Isle of night’, I really wished there was help out there for a beginner like myself. I did find a few articles but for some reason none of them really resonated with me.

I struggled with this for a few days but I think I finally found a way that makes sense to me. Like I said I’m not a professional editor, in fact, I still find it hard to call myself a writer. I’m hoping to share some of my tips for people like me. I have found hundreds of struggling and novice writers on Twitter. It always makes me feel good in a way to see that there are so many others having the same issues as me. I feel like there is a whole underground society of self published authors who are just trying to make their voices heard out there. It makes me a bit warm and fuzzy to know that I’m in this little circle of authors.

I realize that we are all different. Every one of us has our own way of doing things. I just wanted to share a few of my tips. They may help someone or they may not. I do however feel that we need to stick together. Being a writer and trying to self publish is hard enough. Let’s help each other out. There are a million people in this world that are always prepared to strike and bring you down. I would much rather be the one to help someone up than knock them over.

Now enough with this Dr.Phil crap, let’s get editing.

1) When you are done with your first draft, take some time off! I didn’t follow that when I did my first book and I wished I had. It’s hard distancing yourself from your work but in the end its for the best. Reading what you wrote with fresh eyes will help you with the editing process.

2) Editing sucks no matter which way you slice it. After reading my rough draft of ‘Isle of Skye’, I wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe how many errors I made. Honestly, it almost took away the pride and sense of accomplishment I felt when I was finished. Book two however, was more enjoyable for me. I think it’s because I’m more relaxed and confident. You have to step back during the process of writing a book otherwise it will consume you and not in a good way.

3)When you’re writing your first draft, make sure to go back over and edit as you write. After each chapter, no matter how tired I was, I still forced myself to read what I had just written several times. My first book, I just kept going and going. I foolishly thought that it was best to strike while the irons hot and keep rolling. Worst advice ever! Read and edit as you go along, it will not only save time but it will also keep you sane when you start editing!

4) OK, so I figured out a way to edit that really works for me. I tested this theory out and was amazed by my findings. I read my first chapter on my computer. I took a few notes and thought to myself ‘Hey, this isn’t too bad’. Then I opened my master file on my kindle and Holy Moley was I shocked. I couldn’t believe how many mistakes I had missed. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m used to reading on the kindle or if it’s because the screen is smaller and I had to focus more but I was amazed at the difference between reading it on my kindle versus reading it off my computer screen.

5) Grab a notebook and a pen. Instead of trying to fix everything on the kindle I decided to do it the old fashioned way. I pulled out my notebook and wrote down every mistake I saw in each chapter. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pick up on it later when I was on the computer but it really wasn’t a big deal. I made sure to include a few words before and after when I wrote my book punch list.

6) I have a confession to make. I am a comma whore. I fully own this flaw as an author. So when Word tells you to add a semi colon at the end of a word, instead of adding a comma, rewrite and use a period!

7) Don’t get too stressed out. If your feeling overwhelmed, take a break and regroup. The world is not going to end if you chill out for a few days. You’re not being lazy or a procrastinator. You just wrote a freaking book. Make it the best you possibly can and if that means it takes a few weeks longer to publish than so be it. That’s the great thing about being a self publishing author, we don’t have deadlines or people up our ass to finish. We’re not writing one crappy book after another to please our publisher. We’re doing it for all the right reasons and on our terms.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Writing vs. Life

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-Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible
Albert Einstein

I’m not quite sure where to start. I feel as though my life has spun out of control lately. A month ago I was moving along with writing my second book ‘Isle of Night, today I am trying to fit in finishing the book and plan a move eleven hundred miles away. I don’t want to get in to the particulars but due to personal reasons my husband and I are moving back to Charleston, SC where we lived for fifteen years before relocating back to my home state of Maine.

When this discussion first came up I dismissed it. Moving back to Maine and giving my children an idyllic New England upbringing was always my goal. I didn’t want them to grow up in the hustle and bustle of a city. I wanted them to experience all that this amazing region has to offer. I think we did accomplish that dream and while it makes me happy, I am also feeling a sense of loss. I love where I grew up. I love the beauty of the rocky coastline, the crystal clear lakes, and the majestic mountains.

I am looking forward to southern sweet tea and central air conditioning though. Lord, how I have missed that!

So as all of this was unfolding, my thoughts immediately turned to my writing. Could I really finish? Did I have what it takes to lose myself in my writing while I was trying to get things ready for our move?

I am happy to say the answer is yes! I finished the other night. It was the same night my husband drove out of the driveway and started the trip south without us. Even though we knew that he had to leave several weeks before the kids and I, I still wasn’t quite prepared to wave him off down 95. I came in the house, made sure the kids were settled, and sat down at my computer. A few hours later I was done. I know that there is still a tremendous amount of work to do, editing, revising, etc. but that feeling of completion was simply amazing.

I’m sure most people would’ve probably put it the back burner but I just couldn’t do that. I guess it’s because I’m not wired that way. I also insanely set a goal to have the second book edited and published before I leave in six weeks.

Yes, I am not right in the head. I have never claimed to be someone with a lot of common sense. I go with my gut and try to push myself to the edge with everything I do in this world. This time, however, I have a really good reason. You see, I love this book. The first book I wrote furiously. I had to get it out of my head as quickly as possible. It was almost like a demon was chasing me.

I didn’t realize at the time that demon was me.

‘Isle of night’ is a book that I am extremely proud of, not only did I write a second book, but I also enjoyed writing it. Maybe it’s because I have developed more confidence or maybe it’s because I think it’s an awesome book…well, in my humble opinion.

Next month, right before I hit the road on my next adventure, I am going to hit publish and just like the road of the life, I am not going to look back.

New Year Thoughts

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Happy New Year! I feel like it has been forever since I last posted anything on my website. I can only blame the chaos of Christmas that has kept me away from the blogosphere. I was sitting here and thinking about the new year and the whole idea of resolutions. Honestly, I don’t believe in making promises about things that I will probably forget a week later. Instead my mind kept wandering not to resolutions but accomplishments and goals.

Here is what I have learned so far in the past month:

1) Microsoft Word is a truly remarkable creation. I turned my nose up and tried to stick with Google Docs when writing my first book, ‘ Isle of Skye’. My brother actually offered it to me for free and instead of stalking him until he mailed it out, I said to him “Oh whenever.”

I think we all know now, after my horrific start, that was a huge mistake.

2) Do not attempt to write during the Holidays or when your children have a vacation. Every five minutes it was, “Mom, my TV’s not working”, “Mom, what’s for lunch?”, and my favorite at nine o’clock in the morning, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” I literally had to stop myself from flipping my fourteen year old son off. I could feel the finger coming up and I had to force myself to repeat, “You don’t want to be a trashy, scum mom” several times.

3)Stop, take a breath and rewind.

I found myself floundering a bit over the last few weeks. I had totally bypassed my chapter outlines and by the time I got to chapter ten of book two, ‘The Isle of Night’, I was lost. Instead of just charging forward, I stopped myself and sat down to read what I had written so far. I then forced myself to revise my outlines and now I feel so much better.

I also realized something pretty monumental along the way. Not only did I love what I had done up to this point but I also could see a huge difference in my writing. Maybe it’s because I feel more confident or maybe it’s just all in my sick head but there seems to be a better flow to my writing. I’m certainly not going to win a Pulitzer…like ever, but I do feel pretty darn happy about how things are progressing.

4) Stop kicking yourself!

If you knew how many times I had said to myself over the last few months, “Why didn’t I finish what I started twenty years ago? Why didn’t I just go for it? Why didn’t I believe in myself more?” Those phrases kept replaying over and over in my brain. Then I realized something. I wasn’t ready then. Although I don’t think you can ever be prepared enough to write a book I do believe you have to have the right mind set before you start.

This journey for me began because I felt that I was at a stagnant place in my life. All three kids were in school. How much cooking and cleaning could I really do every day? I wanted to finally, after almost fifteen years of being a mother,to do something for me. I wanted to try to achieve my ultimate goal of writing a book.

Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, is done. In fact I’m declaring those words so 2013.

The new words for 2014 are: Strive, achieve,and determination.

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