Writing a Stand Alone Novel vs. a Series

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“Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

 

I have written thirteen books and one cookbook.

Not bad, right?

Interestingly enough though, The Wicked Thorn is proving to be quite a challenge and also a great joy.

It truly feels like I am starting over again in many ways. I am not writing a series, where I can tease certain things, and slowly reveal major revelations over three, four or six books. No, I have just one shot to make sure everything I want to say and write is wrapped up in a large, shiny, package.

Writing a stand alone novel is difficult. I have always had the opportunity to gradually introduce my characters and plot, but this is quite different. I keep second guessing myself on certain scenes, like whether or not this should go in or that should be introduced. It is simply something I have never had to ponder over before and it’s definitely playing with my head a bit.

I enjoy fast paced novels and I always have tried to stick to that preference when I write, but this book is not a story I can rush. I find that I enjoy writing more in depth scenes and dialogue (Although honestly dialogue has never been a problem for me).

I am also tackling my nemesis…the action scene.

Where it was once a groan inducing part of my job and I just have to get this over with, I now am taking my time because it is such a huge part of the story. I have to admit that I have been reading comics and graphic novels to get a feel for the genre. Thankfully my boys have an endless supply of material and knowledge.

I also have to keep repeating my mantra that you must always write for yourself and not for profit, or commercial glory. I have no idea if anyone is going to want to read about a vigilante and how he tries to, not only save his city from crime, but also as he attempts to have a relationship.

My heroine is different as well. She is young and a tad naive, but I am slowly getting to know her steel spine as I write her character. How is she going to handle not only falling in love for the first time, but also finding out her new love lied to her and is a vigilante?

And I have to start and finish their story in one novel.

I’m almost halfway through writing the book and I’m beginning to feel more comfortable, and more confident, but self-doubt can be hard to overcome.

This is a learning experience for me and I have to say that I am loving every minute of it! I will talk more about this book and the others that are going to follow, the further I go along.

I hope and pray that my loyal readers are ready for this change because I know that I am embracing this whole new and exciting chapter!

 

~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

 

 

 

Surrendered Moon is Released!

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I am very thrilled to announce that Surrendered Moon is released and available for digital download!

Writing a six book series was quite a challenge for me. The whole process took longer than I thought, but I am pleased with the end result. It’s going to be hard to close the book on this series. I’ve been with these characters and getting to know them for well over a year now, but alas, it is time to say goodbye.

I hope that you enjoy the final installment in The Hidden Realm Series and I thank you for your continued support.

 

 

Official Blurb:

In the final installment of The Hidden Realms series, best selling author Shannon Barczak invites you along on an unforgettable journey of love and salvation.

Lady Marianna of Fairyland was now officially the Queen of the Werewolves, but King Maximus wasn’t quite ready to surrender to her just yet. Magically encased on a crazy witch’s property for two weeks, the new couple tries to repair their fragile relationship and start over once again.

As they make their way back to the Werewolf Realm, new dangers greet them and a horrible tragedy, as well as a shocking imprisonment, threatens to tear them apart once more.

Join Marianna and Maximus as they navigate the magic of The Hidden Realms one last time!

 

Download here and start reading!

 

~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

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

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