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Places to Hear My Reflections on Things August 14, 2015

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, Books, commentary.
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With the evolution of this blog, there seems to be a need to go over again where to find the best resources for my thoughts on various media:

1)  http://shannon-muir.com is my overall website to find out about all my writing genres.

2) Commentaries on the state of publishing (self-published and otherwise),  and connections between writer and reader will be here at this blog for the time being.

3) Thoughts and inspiration on finding your path in life in general, beyond just writing, are at the Tumblr http://www.ownyourowntale.com.

4)  Insights on animation across the board, as well as my career in general, will be at Shannon Muir’s Animated Insights.

5) Information about my genre fiction and new pulp work is at the Tumblr http://shannon-muir.net.

6) Information on my self-published series are at the following Tumblr sites: willowbrooksaga.com or spontaneouschoices.com.

7) The webcomic I co-write, FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY,  is at http://www.flying-glory.com.

8) The craft of writing of all forms, and news on work not encompassing any area above,  can be found at my Tumblr muirwords.com.

9) News on my visual content for channels like YouTube and Vine is at the Tumblr http://www.discoverwords.com.

10) Interviews and excerpts from other authors books will appear at Infinite House of Books, since those areas are its focus. For highlights prior to 2015, visit the sister Tumblr site at http://www.infinitehouseofbooks.tumblr.com .


Thank you all for your continued support since 2000.


Change as Inspiration March 17, 2014

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice.
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Well, here I am, roughly two years after the last time I was unemployed. My contract unexpectedly ended at the start of March instead of May, bringing to a grinding halt a “day job” that I really loved doing.

I’ve been using the last couple weeks to really reflect on where I want to go next with my writing. Coincidentally, right around the same time the contract ended, I finally released my 2010 NaNoWriMo story FOR THE LOVE OF AIRAGOS (originally entitled THE PAPER TRAIL) as an ebook – available on Amazon, B&NApple and Smashwords so far.  The prior month saw the release of another long-awaited part of THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA,  a prequel called BY THE WILLOW BROOK (at Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Smashwords).

The real question for me now is where to go next. There are definitely more installments of THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA. Readers have waited for another installment for the TRUTH REVEALED series for some time now. Or do I try my hand at something new?

Of course, any paid gig will go above these. But if I’m not finding work and just at home while not job searching, which one will fuel my inspiration and creativity most? I guess it’s time to take advantage of the change and find out! Sometimes the unexpected can get the creative juices flowing by shaking up the routine and make one think in new directions and ways.

The Changing Landscape of Animation May 6, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, animation.
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A couple weeks back I got an email from a young woman thanking me for articles I’d written in the past on non-artists in animation and talking about how there doesn’t seem to be much out there on these areas of the field. Those pieces were done largely in the early 2000s but interestingly enough – and perhaps sadly – her observation remained correct. A lot of what is still covered about the ways people can be involved in animation are the artist and directorial positions; that said, the writer is getting more exposure than the past, but still that usually tends to be all that’s out there. She really thanked me for finding what she had and that someone at least tackled the topic.

I’m mulling over why that hasn’t changed, especially with animation easier to produce than ever before. Perhaps because it has become more of a case where people can write, produce, and direct more on their own and the concern really becomes more about marketing and distribution. Perhaps it is all the changes in the studio system model where things are developed and sent straight to their own networks instead of having to shop around. There’s other factors too and I could probably write a book just on that. The key is that the landscape is ever-changing, especially in the way that created content – animation and otherwise – is ultimately consumed by the end user and that seems to dictate a lot of choices. The two main points here are content being mobile, and content being on demand. The idea of being confined to home at a fixed daypart is long gone.

I think in general a lot of what I’ve written in my columns and books are still relevant when it comes to the larger studio system, but those areas aren’t necessarily the first line of how to break in anymore. It may be very possible to make one’s own way and make a difference in further changing the landscape of the animation industry. The key is to do it smartly and make back on one’s investment in doing so. I wish I had an easy formula to recommend for that, but I don’t. So many aspects are still in flux.

My hope is that people are, despite the unpredictability, still willing to try – as long as they do it in a well thought out manner that doesn’t put their own futures completely at risk. We still need innovative pioneers for animation to grow and evolve.

Deciding A Story Arc – What Stays and What Goes? April 22, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, NaNoWriMo, Willowbrook Novels, Willowbrook Saga, Writing.
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If you’ve followed the author’s notes at the start of the books of the WILLOWBROOK SAGA, there are mentions that I don’t exactly know how many books it is made up of. That is true, though I do know how it ends. I definitely know how the first five come together in the first arc, and what the three tentpoles are for what on my mind is the second arc.

The biggest question I have to ask myself in the moment is how much of my previously written first drafts will I end up throwing out, and with what I do, will I need to rewrite to replace it or does it all need to be excised?

Some major changes that happened as the earlier books evolved in the course of natural revision have invalidated some of the items in these first drafts so I have to change or remove those items. In one case I did a suplot that became a main plot in another non-Willowbrook movie later on (my one attempt at the now defunct Script Frenzy) and I think that the script story better handles the theme; as a result, I need to remove it from the Willowbrook texts.

The thing definitely is, with NaNoWriMo 2013 closing in within six months, I need to figure some of these elements out as the first book of the above mentioned tentpoles will be the book for the year. It’s the only one not written in any form – the other two first started out as a movie, and the other is a past NaNoWriMo manuscript – and needs to have the seeds planted in it to figure out the other two.

It’s hard to say farewell to bits of text you may have slaved a long time over, or just have written down off the top of your head. I always make sure to keep copies of the older drafts around though. You never know when you might be able to take from them later! I certainly did turn out to be able to do that with Willowbrook.

The Story Behind Discoverwords.com April 15, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, Books, ebooks, marketing, promotion.
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Last week, I officially launched a blog devoted to information on bargain books, free books, limited time promotional books, and other book news called Discoverwords.com. A lot of this material used to be done in the early days on Infinite House of Books, which turns a year old this month. Most of it fell away except the limited time promo books as more and more blog tours with interviews have become the mainstay of Infinite House of Books.

This year I also took a class in User Experience where we needed to create a class project of developing a website. I didn’t want to develop for a website I didn’t at least own the URL to, so I went and found something generic enough for my needs but would fit my project. After many attempts, the fit I found was Discoverwords.com. Past the project, I had no idea what I would do with the URL, but I knew it was a real good find.

With the first anniversary of Infinite House of Books coming around, I began to see what had no longer been offered on the website and the reality being that the one site really couldn’t serve two audiences. As came clear during the User Experience research, some audiences just want to know the latest sales and bargains and don’t care as much in-depth about the authors or the creative process (sorry to say). While Infinite House of Books will continue to examining the relationships between writers and readers in depth, discoverwords.com will be the quick place to find out about bargain and free books plus news gleaned from press releases.

I will plug all my own bargain books and sales at discoverwords.com, but mainly as an example of what is possible. I invite any writer interested in using discoverwords.com to go to the site and read the guidelines. I’m always happy to support writers any way I can.

Now, back to my own writing.

2015 UPDATE: The Discover Words blog experiment for isolating excerpts and sales ultimately didn’t work out, and was further hampered by a major blog crash brought about by a PHP update that lost the information. As a result, Discover Words now focuses on news related to visual social media such as YouTube and Vine. INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS has returned to featuring all sorts of information about books, and I encourage you to visit both sites. Some DISCOVER WORDS  posts that were rescued via Wayback Machine that were more commentary in nature have been reconstructed on this blog for reference and noted accordingly.

My Heart Always Aches a Little on Valentine’s Day February 14, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, animation, Writing.
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I’ve been quiet the last few weeks because there have been things going on with my family, the kinds of things that bring you closer together and remind you how valuable a treasure family is.

Valentine’s Day has been a touchstone day for remembering the value of family and the loss of them in one’s life.

Valentine’s Day of 2000, my now fiance’  Kevin and I had come back from a luxurious prix fixe meal at a home converted to a restaurant hiding in Hollywood called Off Vine. I’ve been in love with checking out homes converted to restaurants since my 16th birthday at the now long-closed Patsy Cline’s in Spokane, Washington. Kevin shares my interests in architecture and food. The night had gone extremely well and we had a great time.

I came home to a message on the answering machine. Kevin went off to another room, and I just started playing the message. I didn’t think much of it and figured it would probably just be a telemarketer and nothing important.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The voice on the message was my father. He let me know that his father – whom I was completely unaware was going in to the hospital that day for a routine pacemaker operation – passed away in the hospital the day of the surgery. Out of respect for my family I won’t share further details. It was a message I was completely unprepared to come home to, and remain thankful to this day that Kevin was actually there that night. I’m so thankful I didn’t spend it alone.

From that year forward, Valentine’s Day has never been the same to me. Kevin and I trade off surprising who takes whom to dinner at restaurants (not always converted houses), but that’s about it. Forget the candy, the flowers, and all the rest. It doesn’t replace knowing I’ve gone another year with losing Grandpa Porter Muir in my life far too soon. Thank you, Grandpa Porter, for believing I had a lot of “spunk,” for all the good (and far too few) good times we shared, but most of all for believing in me and supporting me even though I had to be so far away to pursue writing and animation. I still miss you and today I realize it the most.

So my thought to my  readers – whether you have a special someone, or just people you treasure in your life, I hope you think of them today and value the way they make a difference in your life. That’s what Valentine’s Day means to me… treasuring all the people close to your heart.



Learning from the Past and Future September 10, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis.
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This past weekend, I was with my sister’s family in the Seattle area. We decided to go to Seattle Center on Saturday, mainly to see the King Tut exhibit which is there on its final leg before returning to Egypt (the last time any artifacts toured was the 1970s, when I was very young). To see actual items that survive so long in time made by other people – living in a different time but still with many similar struggles of the human condition – served to be an overwhelming experience. I’ve always been interested in cultures and think if I hadn’t become a writer primarily I probably would have ended up in archaelology, psychology, or sociology. All are ways to explore the human condition. I just tend to do it more creatively. (And it struck me as odd because I really identify in some ways with River Song, the archaeologist character of DOCTOR WHO…)

What I also found interesting came in the form of two other exhibits we went to at the Experience Music Project. One was focused on Nirvana, featuring not only instruments played by the group but historical items (demos, handwritten set lists, etc) from the group’s evolution. Whether or not one likes the group – and I do like some of the songs – Nirvana made its impact on the musical landscape. One thing that always stands out to me on the songs, even the ones I don’t like, is the raw honesty of the music and lyrics even when it’s not all pretty stuff. In its own way, this carried a level of impact, though not comprable to King Tut by any means.

The last exhibit covered icons of science fiction, including a Dalek, a command chair and Tribbles from the first STAR TREK, one of the Captain Sheridan uniforms from BABYLON 5, and more. This exhibit definitely could have been more comprehensive and learned more toward TV and film but was a good start to a collection. This exhibit showed the past of what people envisioned as possible futures. In some ways I found it very surreal.

Now I’m thinking about all that I saw and the emotions it evoked, and if there is any way to use that in my writing.




Never enouugh time… even when it is a holiday? May 28, 2012

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I have got a three day weekend and have not managed to get much writing done. The weeks I work all week I have said I have too much work, but here with three days off I still say I do not have time. How can this be? Do I suffer from poor time management?

i can time manage quite well when I want. The key is “when I want”. I am waanting to take the long weekends to do things I might not have time to do otherwise, like finally see THE AVENGERS yesterday (which I liked). These extra activities reduce my precious writing time down furrther.

So perhaps in general the key lies not in wishing for more time but maximizing the time we have.

Managing Book Branding May 21, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, ebooks, epub, indie publishing, marketing, promotion, Writing.
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Over the course of the week I launched yet another website related to my book titles called SPONTANEOUS CHOICES. I know I still need an improved logo for it; I didn’t realize the template I bought and otherwise liked required something or the template brand came in as placeholder.

The story behind this new site is that I have a new single book on tap and was thinking about how to give it more of a destination feel than just pushing it on this blog (similar to what I have for WILLOWBROOK SAGA and TRUTH REVEALED and was trying to decide what URL to purchase. Then it hit me that I didn’t really have any real place for THE PHOENIX RISES or THE HEART’S DUTY either (my other book, TOUCH THE STARS, though not officially not part of the Willowbrook Saga is deeply connected so gets pushed on that page). I wondered if there might be a way to brand selling them all on the same site. I realized what all the leads had in common is they make choices while taking risks without thinking much of the consequences, then get stuck having to face the music in some fashion. From there, the new website was born.

Today writing is more about just putting words to paper and then making them publicly available, and hoping people will come. There’s a lot of effort – and a degree of expense – in enabling people to discover what you have to offer. The trick is to figure out how to do this in both an economical and effective way. We’ll see how this “combined destination” experiment works since the books aren’t technically branded this way at the moment.


Coming Up For Air April 23, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in Advice, analysis, novels, short story, Writing.
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This is probably the quickest blog post I’ve written in a long time. I’ve mentioned being busy with a day job and this time it took both days in my weekend, plus I expect to be busy all this week. That doesn’t mean I don’t think about writing, though my actual minutes to write are few. Despite the fact I should have been sleeping early last night, something for a treatment for one project – neither of my two novels in process – finally came together last night and I completed that first draft. It was a very literal burst of creativity.

Sometimes inspiration can strike out of necessity of a very small window of time to write. It definitely isn’t an approach a recommend often – just in general that kind of stress isn’t a good way to live. Writers, however, need to be able to make adjustments quickly by a deadline (whether imposed by someone else, or self-imposed by expectations built with an audience). Even doing quick, short exercises of seeing what you can come up with in say maybe ten or twenty minutes – regardless of how useful it is – can be good to have in your regular writing regimen. You might be able to use some  of these kernels later for full-fledged stories and novels.