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.

 

Reflections on a Year in Business

“Sometimes the only available transportation is a leap of faith.”

A year ago, I was clinging to this quote like a life raft. Trying to believe it was all going to work out, one way or another.

When I wrote this, I was sitting on a bench in Central Park. The night before, I’d worn the fanciest dress I’ve ever owned to a black tie dinner at The Grand Havana room in New York City for a client fundraiser.

A year ago I would never have imagined this would be my life. Never would have imagined the opportunities that were in front of me. The people I’d get to meet and help.

This year passed both fast and slow. Fast in that I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I was staring down the mouth of a major life change. Slow because the sheer amount of things that have been stuffed into the last twelve months makes it feel as if I’ve been running this business for at least a decade.

I haven’t done a good job at keeping up on this blog with updates on how my entrepreneurial journey unfolded. But frankly, most of this last year was just blindingly busy. I’ve worked harder than I ever have in my life – which is saying a lot because I’ve always worked hard.

There have been days full of tremendous doubt, incredibly solitary moments of doing battle with my own anxiety, and long nights of wondering if I’ll look back at these years and think them worth it.

But on the other end, there have been many moments of pure joy, utter excitement, and intense creativity. From publications to a simple, sincere “Thank You,” life is a revelation. I believe it is our duty to squeeze every drop of feeling from the moments around us, for good or for ill.

And I will say when you work this hard, every moment of relaxation is that much sweeter. Even an afternoon shooting the shit with the neighbors with a beer in hand is full of as much unadulterated happiness as laying on the beach in Mexico sipping a fruity drink. I would know, I’ve done both in the last year.

Things are far from perfect at the moment. There is much I’d like to change about my business, but for the moment, even being here is a gift not afforded many. I’ll be 30 in about seven months and while I had hoped for different things at this stage in my life, I believe that everything is unfolding as planned. I still have time and thus far, I have been tremendously and abundantly blessed.

So if you’ve read this far, it’s probably a good time to share what I’ve learned in the last year of business. The things that I didn’t uncover on any book or podcast, the things I had to learn through doing. If you are thinking of starting your own business, I hope you’ll take these truths to heart:

1. You Have to Get Your Mind Right

This is a huge, huge thing. I’ve learned that almost nothing else matters if your mind is not right. If you are not in a good place, your business won’t be in a good place. So it is absolutely crucial that you block, deny, and eviscerate anything that is significantly pulling you down. You have to be selfish about controlling your input and be sure that you are nurturing your mind and your spirit always. However that looks for you, that is what you have to do. Even if no one else understands, you have to be courageous in looking after yourself.

2. Your Network is Your Net Worth

Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so afraid a year ago if I had known this truth. The people around you are your riches in business. Even if they don’t or can’t work with you directly, treat everyone like gold. I’ve gotten referrals from the most unexpected places and people. I’ve had people I haven’t talked to in years re-enter my life or send me business because of a remembered kindness from years ago. When treated right, your network becomes both your army and shield.

3. Love Those Around You

A few weeks ago a thought started kicking around in my head: “You get more grace than you deserve”.

But I don’t think that’s true.  Instead, I’ve decided, you get the grace you deserve. When you love people well, treat them right, and do everything you can for them, when you need grace, love, and kindness in return, they will give it to you in spades. It’s as simple as that. And the ones that won’t…well they’re not your people anyway.

So today, I’m looking forward to another 365 day journey around the sun with my business and I absolutely can’t wait to see where I’ll be sitting a year from now. Thanks for being here with me and supporting this little dream one way or another. It means the world to know you’re out there ❤️

“Homecoming” in Print, More Writing News, and Other Updates

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I’m excited to share that my short fiction story, “Homecoming”, is out in the April issue of The Plaid Horse magazine. I won Honorable Mention in their 2018 Equestrian Voices Creative Writing Contest. So cool to see the story in print! If you get the magazine, make sure to take a look at the story and let me know what you think! You can also check it out in the online issue here.

On other writing news, I’m also finishing up a short story submission for a pirate-themed anthology that’s due later this month. Along with Homecoming, this is one of the first completely new pieces I’ve wrote in a long, long time – I’d almost forgotten how fun it is to be creating! My story is set in the same world as my novel, Shadow of the Magician, and is also a work of historical fiction with supernatural elements. I’m honestly having so much fun coming up with more ideas for this world and I wish I had more time to write.

Speaking of needing more time to write, I am slowly chipping away at my last round of edits for Shadow. I have been working a lot on Minute Marketing the last few months and have not been able to find adequate time or energy to devote to finishing it so we have been crawling along. But we are slowly getting there!

As always, I am again trying to figure out what I’m doing with my blog. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been reading lately. Like at all. I’m in the middle of two books and they’re both just hanging around, waiting patiently for me to pick them up again. I’m still trying to read Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas and Talk Triggers by Jay Baer. I don’t think it’s the fault of either book, I just haven’t felt like reading lately. Hopefully I’ll get over that soon. My book club just picked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for our May read – so I guess have to get started on that too. Have you read it?

Anyway back to the blog – I’m planning to get back to weekly posts. I also created an email list if you’d like to join. I have high hopes of putting together a semi-regular email with maybe the new release books I’m most excited about, some excerpts of whatever I’m writing, and maybe some exclusive writing content. Not positive on what it will be yet, but I’d love to have you as a subscriber! I love my blog and writing and hope to put more time into creating content here again soon! ❤ Thank you for being here in my corner of the internet!

 

 

Cover Reveal: Cursed Collectibles

Hi.

Still alive. Just busy. Will get back to regular updates eventually and will share some of what’s been occupying my time soon. (Hint: it’s the business)

Still writing. I think I’m on track (hope I’m on track) to have all my edits done for Shadow of the Magician done by the end of the year. And I wrote and submitted another short story to a contest, so cross your fingers and toes for me!

Still reading. I actually have three (!!) book reviews on deck.

Still riding. Escobar and Pia are great, they are both starting to get fuzzy for (SoCal) winter and are incredibly cute.

But just dropping by this weekend to share the cover of the Cursed Collectibles anthology which I have a story in. Can’t wait to share the actual release date and more details about purchasing! This will be a physical book, which is SO exciting!! Let me know what you think about the cover in the comments below!

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New Publication Forthcoming!

August was just…a blur.

I had hoped for better this month, but September seems to be more of the same.

But I found out this afternoon a short story I had submitted will be published in a forthcoming anthology called Cursed Collectibles!

I don’t think I’ve written any short fiction the last few years as I’ve been focused on working on my books, but when I saw the topic of the anthology, I knew I had the perfect story to submit. It’s a story I had written for a class in college that’s been collecting dust on my hard drive. Of course, I ended up re-writing the whole thing anyway prior to submitting (at the suggestion of my writer’s group). But it was worth it because that story, now called “The Garden Party”, has a home! Yay!

New Publication: Interview With Angela Nunez of Solaris Stable & Yoga Studio

Just dropping by to share that I have a new publication out this week! Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been writing a monthly blog for Equine Journal called, From Pasture to Performance. This series is sponsored by Maxtra, a new series of saddle pads produced by Intreprid International. Each month, I’ve had the opportunity to interview cool equestrian professionals and ask them about their best training tips.

This month, I interviewed Angela Nunez from Solaris Stable & Yoga Studio about horse yoga! Yes, you read that right – horse yoga! Check out the interview on Equine Journal here.

 

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May 12th-May 18th: Week in Review

The official launch of Minute Marketing went great – I am so honored and floored by all the support messages I received! I truly have best the best community, friends, family, and boyfriend. Just blessed.

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In order to keep myself accountable and to hopefully avoid slipping into bad habits, I’m going to start chronicling the weeks of my life over here. The idea being that knowing I have to write these posts will keep me from doing anything I’d be embarrassed to admit that I did (like spend an afternoon binge-watching Shameless instead of working).

So here we go!

Saturday I worked for most of the day, but I found time to run a few errands and I took my dog, Elliot, for a walk. I also ran into my neighbors who had some amazing news and I am so stoked for them!!

We rent the house we live in, but I love it. I wish it was at least one bedroom bigger, but it’s super cute and we have the best neighbors. I literally picked this place off of Craigslist 3? 4? years ago, toured it, wrote the application that night, and moved into what has been a dream situation. That’s one of the many things I’m super grateful for, after moving so much during college, to have landed in the best situation. And the landlord is awesome, too!

On Saturday night, the boyfriend and I finally got around to watching Infinity War. INSANE!! We got dinner beforehand at Rubio’s and it ended up being free because the new guy rang us up and majorly messed up. It almost made us late to the movie which was a little stressful, but luckily I had bought tickets online and this theater lets you reserve your seats. Overall, it was really nice to have an evening off.

Sunday, I also worked and then we celebrated Mother’s Day with my boyfriend’s family. My mom lives in Colorado, but I am proud of myself that I managed to sort out the gifts and get them delivered in time with everything else that was going on. I like picking out and giving gifts, so I always handle that. We got Korean BBQ with his family and then we got ice cream at a shop around the corner (Ocean Rainbow) that also served Mexican-style desserts.

Monday, I went to the barn bright and early to ride Pia, my younger horse, before going to my old office for a bit to do some training. Then I did some work before tuning in to my Writer’s Group in the evening. My neighbor is in the group, too, but the other members actually live in different states so we hop onto Discord to talk about the pages that were submitted this week. A couple of us have never met in person so I can tell we’re getting more comfortable with each other every week.

Tuesday, I didn’t get as much work done because I had some errands and things to do. But I went and looked at new office chairs because the “leather” on my current one is literally peeling off over my kitchen. It gives me anxiety because of how messy it makes the floor look. My office is currently in the kitchen because it’s starting to get warm. Tuesday night I celebrated my friend K’s birthday. We tried a place close to my house that I had never been to before: Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. It was SO good! If you like Korean BBQ, you will like this place. It was a bit expensive though, so more of a special occasion option I think.

Wednesday, I also started the day at the barn with Pia. In the afternoon, I met with one of my clients and their new team member. Then I went to the chiropractor who is one of my favorite people because he is a miracle worker. Go see Dr. Brady with Walk-In Chiropractic in Pacific Beach!

Thursday, I worked basically the whole day in anticipation of heading to a conference on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, I went to a Facebook Ads workshop in San Diego with Rick Mulready and that was super great! I learned so much and met some great people AND…I met Amy Porterfield. Amy is pretty instrumental in me being where I am right now. When I decided that I wanted to use my marketing skills to help people, I randomly saw this FB ad from Amy for a free webinar she was doing. I knew her name, but I’d never engaged with her content before and I felt like it was a sign I had made a good decision because the webinar topic was spookily about what I had just decided in my head I wanted to do. I did the webinar and I’ve been a fan ever since. That ad was just the first of many spooky beautiful signs I’ve received since then that I’m meant to walk this path. And I’m just so grateful to Amy for continuing to give tons of value to her fans. I pretty much cried when I met her and she let me give her a hug.

I was tired after the conference on Friday…I haven’t had to focus on one thing for that long in several weeks. So Friday night I took the night off and the boyfriend and I went to The Crafty Butchers for a sandwich and a beer.

What I’m Reading:

Ghost Bully by Brain Corley (review coming soon!)

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

What I’m Listening To:

The Youpreneur Podcast – Chris Ducker was a guest on a few other podcasts I listen to so I recently subscribed to and started listening to his podcast and I’m OBSESSED. I have been binging on the episodes. Luckily there are a lot of them and I spent a fair amount of time this week driving around.

Snow Patrol is releasing a new album, Wildness, and I pre-ordered it through iTunes (yes, I use iTunes) so I have been listening to the singles that have already been released.

Also discovered The Killers released a new album last fall, Wonderful, Wonderful, so I downloaded and have been listening to that as well.

What I’m Watching:

I actually listened to this (rather than watched) but this video from Sunny Lenarduzzi was gold.

What I’m Loving:

That berries are back in season! I love raspberries and strawberries. I just wish they weren’t so expensive and didn’t go bad so quickly 😦

New Adventures…

If you’re not connected with me on my personal social media, you missed my big announcement yesterday!!

A few weeks ago, I had my last day as an employee of Coastal Premier Properties. After 5.5 years, I’ve left my role as Head of Marketing to start something I’ve long felt called to do. Though I definitely resisted the call and tried many times to ignore it and move in different directions, it is true that when you are called, there is little to do, but answer. I’m sharing this for anyone who feels called to do something or be somewhere, but has been ignoring that voice whether out of fear, practicality, or something else. Truly amazing things happen when you accept and lean into your fate, your destiny, your life’s work. I’ve seen it firsthand – the things that have happened since I stop resisting are nothing short of extraordinary.

I loved so much of the work I did at Coastal Premier. But what I loved most of all was working with the people, teaching and helping agents achieve success even if that success was something as small as doing their first Instagram story. There’s a magic to working person to person and seeing someone have a breakthrough or a triumph because of something you did or helped them achieve.

Whether your company stays small all its life or you’re merely passing through on your way to greatness, everyone starts from the same place, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and making things work because there is no one else, but you. I know that struggle well after years of working with people in all stages of business. And what I’ve found is that there are not enough people offering digital marketing services to the little guys and those who are just starting out.

My vision for Minute Marketing is to not only offer paid digital marketing services, but also free resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Even if you’re not a business owner or aren’t in a place where you can afford to hire out for short or long-term needs, I hope you’ll visit my site often, read that blog, and subscribe to my channel on Youtube because one of the things that is important to me in creating my company is to give value and provide the resources people need to get their business to the next level. If you’re stuck and you can’t find the answer to something, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. I want to know what you’re struggling with and if I can answer a question for you, there’s probably at least one other person who has the same challenge.

My site is now live at www.MinMarketing.com. I encourage you to subscribe to my emails not because anyone really needs to join another mailing list, but because I hope to make this the most value email subscription in your inbox. If you’re interested in learning more about my paid services, you can visit the services tab. If you don’t see what you’re looking for and wonder if I offer that service, please email me about what you need.

…Oh, and if you’re wondering if I’m writing a goodbye to this blog right now….NOPE, NOPE, AND MORE NOPE! That’s another thing I’ve discovered about this crazy ride we call life – sometimes you get really, really lucky and get called to walk two paths. My blog is now back in action and I’ll also be sharing more details about my journey as a business owner and a writer here.  I’ve been burning the candle at both ends for awhile now, which is why I haven’t been keeping up with my blog. But I’m excited to start reading again (you guys, I have SOOOO many new books it’s insane) and I am stoked (yes, stoked!!!) to dive back into edits (stoked to do EDITS!) on my Tesla book and get that ready to send out to agents. I missed my blog, I missed reading, and I missed writing. Obviously, it will be a challenge to maintain multiple time-consuming pursuits, but along with my horses and friends and family, that’s what makes life worth living for me. And without all those things, my soul feels incomplete.

So cheers to living a crazy complete life full of passions and chasing dreams and gratitude and synchronicity and making shit happen.  I’m so looking forward to this new adventure and can’t wait to see what the future holds! And if you’ve read this far, I hope you will enjoy turning the page to a new chapter with me.

-Shannon