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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.


Going On An Adventure May 27, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, Book Expo America.
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Last weekend I went back to where my father was born, where my family first lived after my father retired from the Navy, and last week specifically where our larger and extended family said a collective goodbye to my mother’s father – and for me, the last of my grandparents. A lot of what came up I knew, but a particular statement by my grandmother’s younger sister struck me in a way I never thought of before. She mentioned how if Grandma Jeanne hadn’t had the courage to marry my Grandpa Porter and leave the Dakotas for Eastern Washington, that the rest of the family might never have left (both sets of parents and all the siblings all ended up leaving the Dakotas for the Pacific Northwest in various locations). Sixteen years ago, I left behind the comfort of getting to know a family I’d strongly come to know and love and no longer moving to exotic locations for well over a decade to go to the only place my skills could be used then, from the relatively small town that became my life to a giant metropolis called Los Angeles. In some ways that would be a similar leap to my grandmother’s, jumping into the great unknown then. She had no way of knowing their decision to go there would work out and succeed, she just did it. Neither did I. I’m thinking I had more in common with her than I ever realized.

Now tomorrow night, I prepare to take a redeye overnight flight to New York, another major metropolis I’ve never visited, to attend Book Expo America to represent my blog Infinite House of Books. After last week, and then working nonstop in between (including over the Memorial Day holiday), I’ll be getting anything but a breather in the city I understand never stops. This is my first adventure off the West Coast (with the exception of Nevada and Montana but essentially the Western side of the Continental U.S.) in I think nearly 20 years. As I said, I may have left home, but I also stay close to it. I’m excited and admittedly even a little afraid. One of the last things I promised my Grandma Jeanne was that I’d do something for myself, and I chose to go to a city where I’d never been.

It’s also kind of strange, eerie, and appropriate to me that right around the time my Grandma Jeanne first got real sick, Peter Jackson’s version of my favorite book ever came out as a movie. It’s the story of someone who used to dream but has gotten comfortable and put off adventuring as that’s what’s expected of him. Unexpected visitors bring him to realize what he’s meant to do. For those who don’t recognize the film, it’s THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.

So in the words of Bilbo Baggins (from the movie as that’s what’s in my head): “I’m going on an adventure!”


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.

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.

A Writer’s Influences… The Influence of Family March 23, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, indie, indie publishing, Networking, promotion, self-publishing, wisps of writing wisdom, Writing.
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In the world of indie self-publishing, there’s a lot of pressure and push to constantly be on social media – to be out there blogging, tweeting, posting, and more. Without it, people forget who you are and sales go down. That’s the saying. Perhaps it’s true, because in the last few weeks I’ve been rather silent, and I’ll admit I haven’t sold anything.

There’s something bigger than that though, at least for me. I don’t live and breathe to be solely a marketing machine. My goal is to be authentic with my audience first and foremost, and if the rest falls naturally then it does. I can’t force that. I’ve been in a place of late where I’ve needed to be alone to reflect and not share myself with the world. I could keep working on filler pieces, but they would have been distant and authentic. That’s not what I’m known for and that’s not what people following me deserve.

I’m still going to leave a lot of details out, but the short version is that my grandmother passed away March 1st after starting to become rather ill literally right after Christmas last year. Her husband died unexpectedly nearly 13 years earlier on Valentine’s Day, and I lived rather distant from my mother’s parents who passed away much earlier. So really, my Dad’s parents were the only grandparents I really knew.

Even so, I didn’t meet them that I could remember until I was 10 years old. Grandpa and Grandma Muir came, along with Grandma’s mother, to Hawaii where Dad was stationed when in the Navy. They would be the ones who took that distant idea of “grandparents” I’d only ever known from books and television and make it real. When my Dad first retired, they opened their home to us as the first non-military place we ever lived for the summer while Dad registered for school at and later found us a rental home in Cheney, Washington, which would become my adopted hometown.

The years that followed consisted of many holiday visits. It’s true we ultimately did more with Grandpa than Grandma in terms of playing games and having fun. Yet I realize Grandma was the solid, quiet rock that kept things in balance. She embodied practicality when Grandpa tended to be more about having fun and adventure. That’s what made them so great.

One of the things that makes me think of my grandparents and the synergy that was always them is rhubarb pie. My grandfather loved growing rather large gardens full of so many things. Among the things he grew was rhubarb, which I’d never seen before. It would be my grandmother, an excellent cook whose food I always looked forward to, that made pies from that. It showed me how something edible but not naturally interesting to eat on its own could find an interesting identity when coming together with sugar and pie crust. Together they provided parts that made up a whole. Just like my grandparents. I still eat rhubarb pies now of course, but none of them ever quite live up.

They saw themselves that way too, as always together. Even now, in the last arrangements to come, it’s about them together in the end. This is not unlike happier times when one of them reached a birthday milestone, but the party the family organized was to celebrate “124 Years Together” adding up their years in total. That event would be our last major event together with my Uncle Pat passing away in 1999 and my Grandfather on Valentine’s Day 2000.

I’ve talked a lot of them being a pair, but Grandma went on a number of years without Grandpa. I admire her for that, quite a bit, especially when two people are such a perfect fit like that. It takes a certain strength to do that. It’s clear she had it. Yet, even in her room when I went and was able to see her last January before the end, a picture of Grandpa stayed prominently in her room. It’s always about them.

So I’ve spent the last couple weeks largely working, but also thinking a lot about the value of family and my conviction that even when our destinies drift us apart, and things don’t always turn out the way we plan, that we need to be there for one another. Members within a family may not always agree, and it should always be okay to disagree. That makes us what we are, and we need to respect each person. People may not always meet our expectations. Still, family is part of who each of us are and where we come from.

I could spend all day on the thoughts the above starts unpacking, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I didn’t want to post while things were too fresh for my family, though I’m not sure things will fully settle down for a while. I just didn’t think it appropriate to open up to the whole wide world yet.

And if that cost me book sales? Well, the world’s not all about the numbers. Life comes first.

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.



Ending 2012 the Write Way… December 31, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, Books, indie publishing, self-publishing, the phoenix burns, the phoenix rises, truth revealed, Willowbrook Novels, Willowbrook Saga.
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In many ways I’m glad to see 2012 go. It wasn’t easy. But it brought a lot of good things as well.

Most of all, I finally expanded my work in indie self publishing and began introducing the world to the town of Willowbrook, something I’ve wanted to do ever since I started writing about it in NaNoWriMo in 2006 but many barriers got in my way to doing more with it. This year I released not one but three books in the fictional town, discovering both the location and characters from new points of view.

I also managed to fit in a visit back to Truth Knox, a new character who took me by surprise as I experimented with the paranormal in the form of psychic powers for NaNoWriMo 2011. Ironically, my work for NaNoWriMo 2012 would be what prevented me from releasing that when I planned.

As for my work, THE PHOENIX BURNS, written for NaNoWriMo 2012 – I am actually looking into some opportunities for this next generation follow up to THE PHOENIX RISES.  Once I get a better sense of my options in 2013, I’ll let you know.

I look forward to revising both Willowbrook and the world of Truth in2013, plus other new adventures along the way. Thanks so much for your support.

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.




After Colorado: Thoughts July 21, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis.
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Every time I hear of something like what happened in Aurora, Colorado, until I hear the name of the person with the gun I am petrified inside.

“If you write anything about me, I’ll kill you.”

Spoken to me years ago by someone who has military style training and I honestly believe could carry out those words, even now, though I don’t even know if he’s still alive.

I can’t speak about Colorado and how I feel without making comparisons.

It’s not that I don’t care. Frankly, I’m afraid to say this much. I hope you forgive me.

-Shannon Muir


Deciding When Something Should Be Publicly Shared versus Privately Written June 25, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in analysis, Willowbrook Novels, Willowbrook Saga, Writing.
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Lately I’ve had some interesting struggles with self-censorship. When it has come to writing THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA, I had to figure out how to write around – or even omit – certain things because I didn’t think they were something appropriate enough for the “mainstream”. Then the whole FIFTY SHADES OF GREY thing happens and makes me reconsider what the “mainstream public” considers “acceptable” or not. Again, as I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t personally endorse a lot of what these characters do; part of the story is the whole aftereffects of what they do and why. There’s also a matter of tone where a book like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is meant as an escapist read and my works are meant for deeper thinking (whether they succeed is another matter). I haven’t totally come to a conclusion but need to on some points as DOWN TO THE ROOTS needs to be finished by the end of July and June is almost over.