Writing Updates: Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

After last month’s writing update, I officially started the process of querying agents. And I forgot how much the querying process SUCKS. You basically send out a letter to decide the fate of your baby to someone you’ve never met and then spend literally weeks and months waiting around for the response to drop like a thunderbolt from the sky to either ruin or make your day. Not fun.

So far I have one rejection with the other agents yet to reply. To quote Jack Johnson, just sitting, waiting, wishing.

This will probably be the end of the updates about Shadow for a long while as everything will move glacially from here on out. So to tide you over I put the playlist of songs I wrote the book to up on Spotify. Enjoy!

As I mentioned in this post, Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology is out now! The paperback and Kindle versions are available, with the audio book to come. If you haven’t picked up your copy yet, click here to buy. Also if you’d like me to sign a copy for you, I would love that! You may even get cute pictures like these with your request:

One of my barn buddies asked me to sign some copies for her to give as gifts so of course I had to get Pia and Escobar in on the action. As you can see, Escobar thought about eating the book and Pia was completely unenthused. And in the name of authenticity on the internet, I hope you appreciate the raw, realness of these pictures. No makeup, hair in disarray, one leg inexplicably dirtier than the other. Definitely not an IG riding model posting my #ROTD.

I also officially have an Amazon author page! Feelin’ legit now. Click here to check it out in all its glory.

This month I wrote and submitted a new short story to a contest. Fingers crossed on that one. I challenged myself a little bit with the writing so I’m hoping it pays off.

I also found a few more places to shop around a story I’ve been trying to find a home for so I’m waiting to hear back on that, too. So much sitting, waiting, wishing going on around here!

Finally, if you haven’t signed up for my email list, you’ll want to do that here! I have a surprise I’ll be sending out in the next month or so to all of my subscribers!

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology is Available Now

It’s officially Spooktober and what better way to celebrate than with a new collection of spooky stories?!

Cursed Collectibles is officially available through Amazon! The Kindle version is available now, with print and audiobook versions to come in the next couple weeks.

Click here to purchase Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology for Kindle 

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Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

Featuring stories from D.J. Butler, Joy Auburn, Martin L. Shoemaker, Jessica Guernsey, John D. Payne, Jen Bair, Karen Pellett, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Lauren Lang, Frank Morin, Mike Jack Stoumbous, Kelly Lynn Colby, Jace Killan, Jo Schneider, Gama Ray Martinez, Martin Greening, Chris Abela, A.J. Mayall, Heidi A. Wilde, Shannon Fox, Lauryn Christopher, and Mark Leslie.

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to benefit the Don Hodge Scholarship fund. This scholarship helps aspiring authors attend Superstars Writing Seminars. Click here to learn more about the scholarship.

 

Cursed Collectibles Anthology to Be Released October 1st

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I’m so excited to share I have a story coming out in the Cursed Collectibles anthology and it’ll be available for purchase on October 1st – just in time for Halloween!

The story I have in this anthology, entitled “The Garden Party” is actually one I wrote way back when I was going to UCSD – and then rewrote and submitted for this! I love the theme, the cover art, and can’t wait to read/hear the rest of the stories. Thanks for all the hard work Jace Killan!

Authors with stories in the Cursed Collectibles anthology are Dave Butler, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Joy Johnson, Martin L. Shoemaker, Gama Martinez, Mike Jack S, Lyn Worthen, Shannon Fox, Karen Pellett, Jessica Springer Guernsey, Jennifer Blair, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Frank Morin, Lauren Lang, Jo Ann Schneider Stringer, Kelly Lynn Colby, Heidi Andrus Wilde, Adric Mayall, Chris Abela, Martin E Greening, John David Payne

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All profits from the sale of this anthology go to the Don Hodge Scholarship Fund (which is a scholarship that helps people attend Superstars Writing Seminars)

The anthology and audiobook will be available for purchase on Amazon.

 

Writing Updates: Starting the Query Process for Shadow of the Magician

This month I’m starting the agent querying process for Shadow of the Magician. I got feedback from most of my beta readers back and made all my changes to the manuscript from there. I also finished doing the grammar line edits so I feel like this is a solid, clean draft. I’m now at the point where anything else I might do it just feels like picking at it to procrastinate on moving on. I still have a few readers I haven’t heard back from yet, but unless I get some significantly new and different comments, I’m done with this for now.

So next stop: try to find an agent for it! I’m going to the Fallbrook Writer’s Conference on Sunday where I’ll have the opportunity to pitch it to one of the agents there. I also have a few other agents that are my on first round query short list so I’m working on creating all the submission documents I’m going to need.

If you’re not familiar with the agenting process, all agents represent different kinds of projects so it’s important to spend time researching agents so you approach the right people. They also have their own submission criteria of things they want you to send to them which differs from agency to agency. From there, if they like what you see, they can ask you for more pages or the whole book to read. So before you start querying, you need to have a number of things ready to go besides the full manuscript itself. Query letters, summaries, synopses…and all of differing lengths and formats too! Sometimes actually finishing the book feels like the easy part!

I’m also planning to get another short story written for another writing contest this month. Maybe even two. And I have some new edits I want to make to the flash fiction that earned me an Honorable Mention recently. Feeling more encouraged and believing I’ll find a home for it eventually.

Beyond that, I have few more short story ideas I want to write and then I’m planning to start my next book soon. I’ve had the outline done since May and am still feeling really eager to dive in with that one which is a good sign. I’m excited to see how the writing process goes on a new novel now that I can try out all the things I learned from writing Shadow. If I haven’t mentioned this before, Shadow is really special to me because it’s the book that more than anything else I’ve ever written, really taught be how to construct a story, write a book from start to finish, and also how to revise. I learned so much from the process (*cough* hell *cough*) with that one so I’m eager to see what all that learning looks like on a new book!

Recap: Superstars Writing Seminars 2019

2018 Shannon thought her review of Superstars Writing Seminars was crazy delayed.

2019 Shannon said, “Hold my beer.”

Superstars Writing Seminars 2019 took place the first week of February.

It’s *cough* nearly September and this review is just now being published.

But I don’t think it makes sharing my experience any less valuable, especially since this year I was experiencing it as an alumni, not a newbie.

I still think this is the best writing conference I’ve ever been to. It’s by far the most encouraging, supportive, and positive experience around. I was talking to my friend K recently and we were both remarking how a lot of writing conferences can leave you feeling discouraged and a little beaten down by the process and the amount of luck that is required to get a book all the way to publication if you’re going the traditional route.

Which isn’t to say Superstars doesn’t tell it like it is. They absolutely do. They just reinforce the messaging with a heavy dose of encouragement and support.

I keep thinking of this quote from Game of Thrones: “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.”

And I think the same could be true of writers. Though writing is a solitary endeavor, writers need community if they’re going to survive the process. There’s no other way. The odds are too heavily stacked against you to carry that weight on your own. You need people around you to wipe your tears, give you a hug, and cheer the loudest for you when you succeed.

That’s what Superstars is all about. Come for the knowledge, stay for the lifelong friends you’ll make and the tribe that welcomes you back year after year.

Though the details of this year’s event have gotten fuzzier with time, I do want to mention a few highlights from this year’s conference:

-Craft day continues to be the best investment in terms of learning craft that you can make. This year I got to listen to Jim Butcher talk about developing characters and it was mind-blowingly good. Also Jim Butcher is a great storyteller – and not just on paper. If you ever have the chance to see him talk, you should take it. 10/10 would recommend.

-The VIP dinner continues to be one of the highlights of the whole conference. Yes, it’s an extra expense. Yes, there’s no guarantee you’ll get to sit with your first or even second choice author or editor. But the people who come to Superstars are of such high quality, your evening won’t be a waste no matter whose table you end up at. Just make sure you study the faculty list before you go so you don’t *almost* end up asking Jeffrey Deaver who he is. Not that I know from experience or anything.

-If you can afford it, absolutely stay at the hotel. Again, this isn’t cheap. But Superstars is the middle of winter and after the conference ends for the day, the lobby bar is the place to be. Friendships are cemented, writers groups are formed, and books are birthed with the help of a cocktail or two. It’s worth it to be able to part of that experience and not have to worry about driving somewhere in the snow at night.

I’m planning to head back to Superstars again this year for the third year in a row! If you’re interested in learning more about the event and snagging a discount code, reach out to me!

Writing Updates: Congratulations and Write On

Two rejections.

That’s how my July went.

I could stop here.

But this blog post is, after all, called “Congratulations and Write On.”

Clearly, there’s more.

The first rejection I received was for a short story I submitted to a themed anthology. On the whole, I thought the story was pretty good and one of the better things I’ve written recently. I did get a little feedback about it and I know it had been in the “maybe” pile after all the submissions were initially reviewed.

Still, at the time, this didn’t make me feel any better. I was actually pretty down about this one. I tend to think I’ve desensitized myself to rejection. Small, low-stakes rejections that feel impersonal – like writing rejections. Yes this one made me mopey for three days.

A few weeks after that, I remembered that I’d submitted a flash fiction I’d written last fall to a contest and needed to check and see if there were any updates.

There were.

I didn’t win.

Nor was I a finalist.

This rejection didn’t both me as much. A flash fiction is kind of a weird entity. I’d written the piece originally for a prompt I did with my writing group and after it was surprisingly well-received, I started shopping it around, not really sure if I’d find a home for it.

Still, two rejections in one month is not the best for a person’s confidence in their art.

One night I was sitting at my computer working on something when I saw I had a new email from the contest I’d been rejected from.

The subject line?

“Congratulations and Write On!”

I clicked it open, figuring it was just marketing ploy to get me to open an email about submitting again. That’s the problem with working in marketing. You see all the puppet strings.

But rather than a sales email (okay they did encourage me to submit again, too) I received the following message:

“Congratulations to you on being selected as an Honorable Mention for ‘Uncanny’ in the ___ Writing Awards. We’re so pleased at the chance to read and commend this fine work!

The quality was high, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. Although your piece won’t be published, I hope you’ll be gratified to know that as an Honorable Mention, you placed in approximately the top 8% of our entries (or, as I prefer to look at it, your piece beat out 92% of the competition).”

You can bet I was happy to get that email!

After I got up and told the boyfriend about my bit of exciting news, I started thinking: this one little email had turned my night around. And my month, too, as far as my writing was concerned. But what if I never received it?

.

.

.

I’d still be beating myself about being rejected twice in the same month. I would still be thinking that I’d failed. That my writing showed no promise whatsoever.

I’d still be missing the big picture.

One contest took the time to send me and however many others (or maybe this IS all part of a fantastic marketing ploy, in which case hat’s off to you) this email about being in the top 8% of the entries. Top 8% is not failing friends. That’s coming pretty damn close. That’s the luck of the draw. That’s subjectiveness.

Which made me think back on the other rejection. I knew that in the final anthology selection, only one story out of all the maybes had made the final cut. Mine wasn’t the one. But it didn’t mean my story was terrible. It just wasn’t as strong as some of the other submissions in the eyes of the reviewer.

That’s not failing. That’s coming pretty damn close. That’s the luck of the draw. That’s subjectiveness.

What an incredible, incredible gift perspective can be.

So yes, I got two rejections in July.

I didn’t fail.

I just didn’t win.

But I came pretty damn close.

Congratulations and write on!

Writing Updates: Shadow of the Magician and More

That’s a pretty cool sight, right?

As a writer, having all those words you’ve written in book format is really just an indescribable feeling. I can’t even accurately tell you what that feels like except damn good.

In May I finished the most recent draft of Shadow of the Magician. I’m really excited about where it’s finally gotten to and feel this is about the absolute best I can do with it, so it’s time to stop picking at it and start moving it forward.

It’s been heavily workshopped over the last year and change by my writing group and now I’m moving to the beta reader stage. As most of the readers in my beta group are 40+, I decided they probably didn’t want to read almost a 100,000 word book in PDF format. Plus one of my writing friends turned me on to the fact that yes, you CAN print on demand small runs of books for not very much money. I ordered from Lulu’s and ended up getting the books for about $10 a piece. I think the quality of the books turned out great, considering I’m entirely an amateur in terms of formatting books and making a cover. That wasn’t really my goal though, to create a copy that would be for sale. I just wanted something that would make it so much easier for my beta readers to read and (hopefully) enjoy.

There are now ten of these review copies in the world. Maybe they’ll be worth something someday. At the very least, it’s worth something to me. To other writers, I highly recommend doing this to your work…I think going forward I’ll create at least a few copies of every book I finish. If your goal is to publish traditional and you don’t sell it, man the satisfaction of having that thing for yourself is so, so good. Like I could get addicted to it.

My goal with this book is to hopefully publish it traditionally. So the next step after the beta read is to review their feedback, fix it, and then begin the process of submitting to agents.

I’m crossing my fingers that I can finish the next round of edits in a timely fashion, get my materials together, and start submitting to agents this fall before they shut down over the holidays. We’ll see if my work schedule actually allows for that. But I am trying to restructure and reorganize to inject better balance in my life because what I’ve been doing, it ain’t workin’ for me and it needs to change in a big way.

Along with finishing this draft of Shadow, I also wrote and submitted a short story to an anthology. Really crossing my fingers it makes it in. That short story takes place slightly after the events of Shadow (though it features different characters) and will serve as a bridge into a future book in the same world (or maybe two). I haven’t started trying to plot any future stories yet. I have two ideas and I feel I could do them both or just do one if I don’t feel I have enough meat for the both of them. But I need to do a lot more reading and research to start developing those ideas to see if they amount to anything.

If you’ve seen me any time in the last two months, you’re probably floored that I actually managed to do this much on the writing front. But wait! There’s more…

I wrote a flash fiction story in the fall, something completely different, and had a grand idea to maybe start serially publishing more stories in that world on this blog. For all that this has been my personal book and writing corner for the last eight years (!!!), there’s a distinct lack of my own writing on here for general consumption which I think is kind of a problem. So I started outlining a longer short story or maybe a novella I could serially publish on here….but then it quickly started to feel like that story was going to be another book. Or maybe more than one book. In any case, I ended up finishing an outline for whatever that work ultimately decides to be when I dig into it. So I got that done too!

I also have a draft of another book I had written a few years ago, before I decided I wanted to dig in and finish Shadow. I still really, really like that story and that world and I want to go back to it. It’ll probably need a total rewrite because it’s been three years (or maybe four?) and the opinion of pretty much everyone who saw my writing in 2018 and 2019, is that along with everything else going on in my life, I made really big strides forward in my writing abilities. Yay for that, but it means any of these other projects I have from the past that I might want to pick up again need to be revamped. Le sigh.

My group has really encouraged me to start something new though and not get stuck trying to improve something old. I think they’re right because it was really, really hard and discouraging at times for me to work through everything I needed to do with Shadow. Sometimes I felt like giving up on writing entirely. But as I said, I still really like the draft story I have even though I wonder that with our current climate of political correctness and sensitivity readers, whether I should even be trying to tell that story.

What I do know is that I’m not going to start another book right away. I want to write a few short stories set before the beginning of Shadow and I should work on the query letter and crafting some synopses of different lengths for Shadow while I wait on the feedback from beta readers. I also have a few more small fact-checking related items to look into which will require some emails to different people.