Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Guest Post: The Business of Short Stories Book Release

Whether you're looking to add short stories to your repertoire as a solo pursuit or in addition to novel writing, The Business of Short Stories covers every aspect from writing to marketing. Learn the dynamics of short story writing, where to focus your editing efforts, how and where to submit, how to handle acceptances and rejections, what to do with reprints, and how to market yourself and your stories online and in person. The information in The Business of Short Stories has been distilled from over a decade of short story publishing experience so you don't have to learn the hard way. You'll find information on submission formatting, cover letters, querying a collection, sending proposals to writing events, how to create a website, SEO, social media, and so much more. This is an invaluable resource for short story writers.

There's never been a better time to get into short stories!

ISBN: 978-1-7320314-5-6
Format/Price: Print ($13.99) and e-book ($3.99)
Release Date: February 1, 2022

Pre-order E-book:
Paperback pre-order link coming soon!

Shannon Lawrence has made a career of short stories, with over a decade of experience and more than fifty short stories published in magazines and anthologies. In addition, she's released three horror short story collections with a mix of new and previously published stories. Her true crime podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem is going into its third season. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

2022 One Word, IWSG, and Upcoming Events

Now that the holidays are over, it's time to start looking forward in to the new year. Tiptoeing. Quietly. Not touching aaaanything.

I haven't had much luck with my One Word Resolutions the past few years due to the world falling apart and various other things out of my control, but hey, why not play along like this year might be different? I'm going to play it safe with RECOVER. 

Currently I have a cold. Just one of those plain old chest colds that due to the coughing, make everyone run for the hills. I've had Covid. I'm sure I can handle a cold. Other than recovering from that, I'm looking forward to recovering some spring events that were still cancelled in 2021, some mythical 'free time' that went to taking care of my MIL and my daughter during their heath crises, and some mental wellness by doing some of the non-writing hobbies that I haven't made time for in years. 

One of those is a cross stitch that I started at least fifteen years ago and has sat untouched on the stand, 2/3 done, staring at me longingly, for the past seven years. Current goal: finishing this thing! It matches a plate that my grandmother gave me. I'd like to get them framed together. Eventually.

Those events I'm hoping to recover? Here's my spring line up:

Feb 5 Byron Rec Comic Con
Feb 11-13 Lansing Women's Expo
March 5-6 Hall of Heroes Con
March 18-20 Grand Rapids Women's Expo
April 8-10 Grand Rapids Spring Comic Con
April 24 Tulip City Comic Con
April 29- May 1 Whitestown Viking Fest

And that brings us to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question:

What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to

If you're not familiar with 
and find links to all the other 
participating writers.

 overcome it?

Biggest regret: not having more proofreading early on in my writing career. It seems there are always typos, however, the goal is to have as few as possible or if the angels are smiling upon you, none at all. I've found typos in short stories I've had in various magazines and anthologies. Even in my books that were published by a publisher. So it's no surprise that self-published books often have typos too.

I've learned not to expect anyone else to find them all during the editing/proofing journey. Everything I submit anywhere now goes through a process to eliminate as many of those pesky buggers as possible. This way, editors and proofreaders can hopefully catch the few that are missed rather than being overwhelmed by the brunt of the typo load.

The super secret process? Read the story on screen. Find typos. Print the story, read the pages. Find typos. Have the computer read it too me. Find typos. Read the whole darn thing again. Find significantly less typos. Then it goes to other eyeballs. And still, when it comes back for the final proof before printing, I'll read it again, and find a few more to fix. Every. Darn. Time. 

We're all human. Typos and all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

NaNoWriMo, Planning Ahead, and IWSG

And November crawls to a close. For the second time ever, I stalled out before 50K. I'm okay with this. I've won far more than my fair share of NaNos. Too much stress this year, overtime, overbooked, and very little sleep. I've been perpetually exhausted for months. So at 35K, I found peace with just letting go. I'll get back to the story at some point. It was going well and I was enjoying it. Frayed, being urban fiction, is something totally different than what I've written before and I'd like to see how this emotionally charged story wraps up.

On deck for December: wrapping up Spindelkin on Kindle Vella. The story is done, it just needs a bit of editing and then getting the second half of the novel posted. Click the cover off to the left if you'd like to give this YA dark fairy tale a try. The first three chapters are free. Also on the agenda: sleep, quiet time, recharging the internal battery, and copious amounts of ice cream and hot chocolate.

January will be devoted to making a few minor tweaks to my current novels, taking inventory for events for the new year, and finalizing my book signing schedule. At them moment, it's looking like 28 weekends. Cutting that to 26 is ideal, but we'll see. I'll be focusing on Renaissance Fairs, Comic Cons, and larger art festivals in 2022. 

February is my scheduled month to dive into the last edits of Seeker: Book 4 of the Narvan. I hope to have it completed by April/May. 

Beyond that, I intend to get Spindelkin out in print by fall or it may wait until spring 2023. No crazy five book publishing plan for 2022.  Is any of that subject to change? Sure, my motivation goes in spurts and sometimes I just have to roll with it, but at the moment, my motivation is declaring a well-deserved vacation.

Books make great gifts! You can purchase signed copies of all of my books and have them shipped directly from me to you by clicking on the "Buy Signed Copies" tab at the top. 

If you're not familiar with 
and find links to all the other 
participating writers.

And now to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question: In your writing, what stresses you most and what delights you?

Not a whole lot stresses me with writing. There's plenty of that outside of my fingers on keyboard. Usually writing is my happy place. But in the spirit of answering the question, I'll go with getting through the middle. Stories always start out with a sort of manic energy, when you're full of ideas and excitement about seeing this new word baby flow on to the page. But that wears off. It can be easy to wander off to other new projects or begin to doubt that you're on to something worthwhile for all the time you're spending on it. If there's anything I've learned in all the novels I've written, or started writing, the middle is where I trail off. If I can get past that 50 to 60% point, we're golden. 

Delights me? Seeing a story come together, when the dots connect, the plot threads tighten, the characters come alive. There's some of that in the first draft to be sure, but a lot of the most gratifying moments happen in edits, once the whole story is in my head and I can see how to pull it together tighter, and add those emotional or detailed scenes that I breezed over in the first draft. There's a lot of delight in writing. Thankfully. That's why we keep doing it, isn't it? Or maybe we're just mad. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Book Release, IWSG, and NaNo!

First, the exciting news... The Minor Years is now available in paperback from your favorite online retailers. 

On idyllic Veria Minor, Anastassia struggles to fit into a life she never wanted. She’s lost everything she’s worked so hard for.
According to her cover story, she’s now an acolyte Seeker, a mother, and wife of Isnar Ka’turoc. In reality, the Council’s torture has left her with only a whisper of her telepathy, she doesn’t know the first thing about raising a kid, and the man she’s stuck with is the same one who ruined her life. If she wants to stay among the living, she must learn to forgive and adapt.
When the Narvan unexpectedly falls into Jey and Merkief’s hands, the one thing on both of their minds is revenge. Kess killed Anastassia and Vayen, but he now has the High Council’s protection. To make things worse, he’s been awarded the advisory position for the Narvan’s neighboring system, including control over the wealthy planet of Merchess, which had provided much of the Narvan’s funding.
Strapped for credits, at each other’s throats, and attempting to meet the High Council’s demands, Jey and Merkief wage a covert battle with Kess. If the violence explodes, everyone will suffer.
Available at all your favorite online retailers or visit me at Grand Rapids Comic Con Nov 12-14 or at the Bluestocking Bookshop in Holland on Nov 27.

Ebook links are coming soon.
If you're not familiar with 
and find links to all the other 
participating writers.

Next up is this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question: What is harder to do, coming up
with the book title or writing the blurb?

While titles take their sweet time coming to me, I'm going to have to go with writing the blurb. Having to stare at the entire novel and figure out what bits create the most enticing blurb without giving too much away but also providing enough detail is challenging. The two things (now that I've done a bunch of them) are:

1. Focus on what happens in the first few chapters rather than the whole book. The stakes obviously have to draw from the main plot, but the characters and what they generally face are often laid out at the beginning.

2. Write a synopsis. Somewhere about book seven or eight, those vile things started coming to me before I even write the book. I credit that to the agony of having to write seven or eight of them from the whole novel after the fact. My brain apparently said, ok, enough of that! Let's just start there and then write the book. So while I still claim to mostly be a pantser, I guess this edges me toward planster territory. Staring at one to three pages of the synopsis is much easier to digest for blurb purposes than trying to analyze the whole novel.

And that brings us to National Novel Writing Month.

I'm launching into an Urban Fantasy this year for something different. That's been on my list of Speculative Fiction subgenres to try for a while now. After spending so much time on YA books Spindelkin and The Traveling Circus and The Skeleton Key last year, I'm having to make a conscious effort to drag myself back into writing for the adult market.

Don't get me started on the title. I don't have one. Currently, the project is known as "Witty Title". I usually find the actual title as I write. Since I'm only on chapter two, it will likely be a while before that happens. So far things are moving along smoothly thanks to my handy synopsis.

If you're participating in NaNoWriMo and want to be buddies, I'm Gypsywitch on the NaNo site.

And now I better get back to writing because sadly, this blog post doesn't apply toward my daily word count.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Calm Before November

October is, quite thankfully, turning out to be a quiet month on most fronts. I may have overbooked myself just sliiiiightly in all of 2021. Technically I overbooked myself for 2020 because 2019 went so well, but then most everything rolled over and weekends collided and more event opportunities became available that I hadn't signed up for yet. Partner that with my ambitious publishing schedule, being down with covid myself, caring for MIL, and my daughter's health issues...and well, it all got to a lot too much. So when two events cancelled this month, I was very okay with that. I've spent one quiet day working in my very weedy flower garden and another zoning out to Netflix. (currently wrapping up TURN: Washington's Spies after watching the last season of Lucifer after all of Arrow) No. I do no have a Netflix binge problem. I'm totally fine. 

Given that previous paragraph, it shouldn't be a huge shock to say that I'm officially bumping Seeker: Book 4 of The Narvan to a Spring release. I'm waiting for Minor Years to appear in my inbox tonight from the proofreader. That book, if my world doesn't fall apart, should be out at some point in November. 

If you've read Trust and would like a review e-book copy of Minor Years - which directly follows Trust and leads up to Chain of Grey), let me know in the comments below.  

My plans for October involve formatting Minor Years, relaxing, doing a quick outline for my upcoming NaNoWriMo project, relaxing, signing books at Fandom Fest in Benton Harbor MI, relaxing, and doing some more weeding in my garden. 

Why all the need for relaxing? I mean, on top of that first paragraph of ugh? November is NaNoWriMo year 16 for me and that means its time to churn out a super rough draft of new novel! And also, do book signings every weekend. Then there's that Thanksgiving thing, and only my daughter knows if she's sticking with college or moving back home and whatever that might bring. Woo boy. I'm exhausted just looking at this.

Will I book myself a little lighter next year? Yes. Will I not publish 5 books next year? Yes. Have I learned a little something here? Yep. Will I continue to spend too much time watching Netflix? Also, yeeessssss.

If you're not familiar with 
and find links to all the other 
participating writers.

Which brings us to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group question: Where in your writing do you draw the line with topics or language?

If you've read my books, you undoubtedly know that language is a no line thing. I am no lady. I swear like a sailor as do most of my characters. Some far more than others, but yes, profanity abounds. 

Topics, however, are a different. I try to steer clear of  most controversial topics because I want readers to enjoy the story rather than listen to me preach my views. 

I did once write a suicide story. It was heartbreaking and written to help my cope with the loss of a cousin. Once it was complete, I read it and then deleted it. Not because it was horrible, but because it had fulfilled its purpose. To this day, that's the only story I've ever deleted. Everything else, even the cringe-worthy garbage, is gathering dust somewhere on a shelf or hard drive. I suppose, to answer the question, I draw the line at stories that are too personal or might hurt people I know no matter how fictionalized the content might be. 

Are you doing NaNo this year? Are you a fan of swearing or not?