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Do Writers Love Listening to Writing Improvement Materials While Doing Other Things? September 2, 2015

Posted by shannonmuir in Things Readers and Writers Love.
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DISCLAIMER: This piece was written using an audio book copy of THE AUTHOR MINDSET: A HOW TO REFERENCE ON BECOMING AN AUTHOR EVEN BEFORE YOU PUBLISH YOUR FIRST BOOK as provided by Novel Publicity via Audible. No other form of compensation, other than a free audio book, has been received. This information provided by the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission.

As a busy multi-tasking author, I wondered if I might find it easier to take in advice for how to improve my writing and author business while doing other things. When the opportunity arose to review an audiobook for THE AUTHOR MINDSET: A HOW TO REFERENCE ON BECOMING AN AUTHOR EVEN BEFORE YOU PUBLISH YOUR FIRST BOOKI saw it as an excellent venue to try to answer this very question.

I ended up splitting my listening of the 12 chapter audio book – downloaded on to my Android phone – into two sessions. The first half I listened to while a passenger on a several hour car trip. The second half I played while doing some exercising at home. With the narrator of this book (Craig Beck, and not text author Falcon Storm) being clear and easy to follow, yet with a voice that kept the listener engaged, I do feel I took in and retained the content while doing other activities.

As to the actual content of the audio book, a lot of it I knew from my own personal experience, but to hear the refreshers proved great. In particular, I found the chapter on social media quite interesting as it outlined the author’s thoughts in detail on the pros and cons of each platform; as someone with hands in nearly every one of them, it was interesting hear thoughts on some social channels and their effectiveness I hadn’t previously considered.

It would seem to me, particularly with refresher material, that writers listening to helpful materials – maybe even while writing – could be effective. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so get the the conversation going on twitter with #readerswriterslove as the hashtag.


The end of this blog as Animated Insights August 23, 2014

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In recent months, I’ve still been blogging but none of it here. I’ve followed the tastes of my audience, and fragmented out to multiple blogs to reach people more selectively.

If you want to continue following my writing commentary and comments similar to what I’ve done here in the past, consider coming over to Muirwords by Shannon Muir at http://www.muirwords.com. It’s the same tone and style as this blog is, but I began to find the free version of WordPress limiting for my needs and that I could do this same style with more freedom over at my own setup. So please, those of you subscribed to a feed, hopefully you can easily do the same there. A selection of posts from here may ultimately be re-blogged there, I’m still deciding. This will also be where I talk about stories I put out with publishers such as Pro Se Productions or Emby Press.

If animation has been the appeal for you, I’m not really dealing with that exclusively at this point. Your best bet is probably the new home of Shannon Muir’s Animated Insights on Tumblr at http://www.animatedinsights.com. While it aggregates all my blogs there, I also do commentary on re-blogged animation or just share animation I find compelling or nostalgic and talk about it. I may also add in the occasional new text post as necessary, but a lot more is available online now than it was when I entered the arena years ago by people who are more on the cutting edge. I thank them for stepping up and doing so.

There are also other blogs and sites I run that might interest you:

http://www.house-of-books.com: Infinite House of Books primarily consists of author interviews based on questions provided by me to book blog tours and individual authors. They’re not the same stock questions being handed out to 50 sites at once, though authors always answer the same questions.
http://www.discoverwords.com: Discoverwords.com brings excerpts and cover reveals from various authors mainly in YA, New Adult, and various genre fiction areas
http://www.willowbrooknovels.com: The latest news and information on my Willowbrook Saga independently released e-books.
http://www.spontaneouschoices.com: The latest news and information on my e-books led by women fueled by passion (though not always the best decision makers as passion sometimes blinds their logic).
http://www.flying-glory.com: FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY is the long running web comic I’ve partnered up to co-write with Kevin Paul Shaw Broden that has been on the web since 2001.

Lastly, http://www.shannon-muir.com shows all the books and stories I’ve put out with links on how to buy each, as well as links out to all the above listed sites.

See you around the Internet, and thanks for your continued support!

All the best,
Shannon Muir

New Year Means Lives Reflected January 25, 2014

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At the end of the year, I spent some time gathering together a variety of short pieces written in my various stories universes and fleshed them out. Along with pieces of poetry I’d written throughout the year, I brought together a third 99 cent (USD) anthology that serves as a great sampler to my various works. Included are short stories set in the  WILLOWBROOK SAGA, TRUTH REVEALED, and PHOENIX COLLECTION universes along with two new stories.

Many of the stories began as small teases on the Willowbrook Novels site because my original intent had been to do a book of stort stories entitled GLIMPSES OF WILLOWBROOK, but in the end opted for a wider ranging project since the short story and poetry anthologies seem to work better for me. Those brief bits have finally been fleshed out into their own stories about the recent past of Willowbrook right before the Saga opens.  A couple stories, such as the TOUCH THE STARS prequel “Star Gazing” (connected to the Willowbrook Novels) and “In The Phoenix’s Shadow” (a story between the two books that comprise THE PHOENIX COLLECTION) have appeared in their entirety on the web on the WILLOWBROOK NOVELS and SPONTANEOUS CHOICES websites, respectively.

“A Somewhat Magic Man” (from the TRUTH REVEALED universe) is completely new to this collection and elaborates on back story discussed in ON THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH. More is still underway in the THE HEART’S DUTY universe to come later in 2014; “Arrow to the Heart” (part of THE HEART’S DUTY universe) fills out a key span of time between the last chapter and Epilogue of THE HEART’S DUTY that ties into other works in progress.

Additional all new offerings are the stories “Inspired by the Silver Screen” and “Showers,” both of which came to me while I worked on compiling the collection. The book also features twelve new poems centering around choices made in life and the passage of time.

Check out LIVES REFLECTED today – exclusively on Amazon as part of KDP Select – and see what other characters and stories might interest you.

Breaking News… A New Voice in New Pulp! December 19, 2013

Posted by shannonmuir in anthology, new pulp, Writing.
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About this time last year, I heard about an anthology idea being floated about by a company called Pro Se Productions. This company specializes in what has come to be known as “New Pulp” – either new stories on classic Pulp characters, or new characters told in the style and vein of the classic Pulp feel. I’d submitted to them in the past with ideas, and at this particular time I was drawn to a premise where the bible was created in house and writers were invited to pitch stories. The name of the anthology: NEWSHOUNDS. It featured a newspaper in the 1950s looking to expose injustice and taking heavy risks to do so. Given my background in English and mass media, I thought I’d at least take a stab at it, though I knew I’d need to do a lot of period research.

They liked my pitch but it turned out the story would be a struggle to get through. I went into it knowing I would have research challenges, which I’d planned. What I hadn’t planned was the passing of my father’s mother and how it would rock my concentration for months. I sincerely thank the staff of Pro Se Productions for their patience as I know I was slow turning in that first draft.

The wait was definitely worth it. NEWSHOUNDS is now available for sale at Amazon in print, as well as on Amazon for Kindle and on Smashwords. My story is one of three, along with writer J. Walt Layne, and the third by my collaborator on FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY, Kevin Paul Shaw Broden (who also did the anthology cover).

So I’m excited to get to be part of the world of New Pulp at last, after seeing Kevin write works such as his piece in the anthology BLACK FEDORA and his independently published REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST. I loved writing these characters and I hope Pro Se Productions gives me the opportunity to revisit them again sometime. It was a lot of fun.

Nine for NaNo October 31, 2013

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This year, alliteration is my motivator as I go for “Nine for NaNo”. NaNoWriMo, run by nanowrimo.org, motivates writers to complete a 50,000 word first draft in the 30 days of November.

I’ve done it for eight prior years, and I have hit the mark eight times.

This year, with my prequel to THE HEART’S DUTY entitled DISCOVERING THE HEART’S DUTY, watch me go “Nine for NaNo!”

Here is the list of all my manuscripts:

2005 – TOUCH THE STARS (Womens Fiction/Romance, now available indie self published published in ebook and print)
2006 – FILL THE INNER CIRCLE (Womens Fiction/Coming of Age, indie self published published forthcoming – part of the Willowbrook Saga, available as ebook)
2007 – THE FIRST THE LAST THE ALWAYS (Womens Fiction/Coming of Age, indie self publishedpublished forthcoming – part of the Willowbrook Saga)
2008 – ALL THAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND (Womens Fiction/Romance – indie self published forthcoming – part of the Willowbrook Saga)
2009 – AN UNEXPECTED TURN (Womens Fiction/Romance – indie self published forthcoming – part of the Willowbrook Saga)
2010 – THE PAPER TRAIL (Contemporary Fantasy, status pending)
2011 – HALF TRUTH AND FULL LYE (Paranormal and Supernatural/Romance/Mystery, first book in the Truth Revealed series, available as ebook)
2012 – THE PHOENIX BURNS (Romance/Contemporary Women/Womens Fiction – indie self published ebook)
2013 – DISCOVERING THE HEART’S DUTY (Womens Fiction/Contemporary Women – prequel to indie self published book THE HEART’S DUTY – writing begins November 1st!)


As in past years, I will be offering the “first draft free” through Smashwords as part of their offering to NaNoWriMo contestants. So download DISCOVERING THE HEART’S DUTY as it becomes available and continue to come back throughout the month for free updates to watch the story unfold! Realize anything you read may ultimately be subject to change, but it lets you be part of the process too.

To celebrate going “Nine for NaNo,” this year I am upping the ante by providing coupons good at Smashwords.com for the prior year “winning” titles. Use the below coupons now until December 1st and get these titles FREE when entering coupon code at checkout:

FILL THE INNER CIRCLE (2006 NaNoWriMo winner) –  NA36A
HALF TRUTH AND FULL LYE (2011 NaNoWriMo winner) – JY66N
THE PHOENIX BURNS (2012 NaNoWriMo winner) – CX76C
TOUCH THE STARS (2005 NaNoWriMo winner) – XD27G

Thanks for your support! See you at 50K!

Prep for NaNoWriMo 2013 October 23, 2013

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I’m prepping to go into another NaNoWriMo, where if I complete this one will be in my ninth consecutive November “win”. This caveat came about because I attempted Camp NaNoWriMo this summer with the same 50K limit, but fell a bit short – a bit over 10K of words. I found it really didn’t go with my writing style, and being with a whole “cabin” of unmotivated people – some of which even dropped their word count to “win” – did not motivate me. I think the self-focused route works for me.

So what to write? Well, to be honest, it was going to be the 6th book in the Willowbrook Saga as of my plans in the early year. Then that became the manuscript I tried at Camp NaNoWriMo. So what to do?

In one of my earlier books and one of the few not to start as a NaNoWriMo project, THE HEART’S DUTY (of which a portion of it began serialized on Goodreads), the main character’s mother evolved into a character that left a lot of interesting questions. Given the kind of man her second husband turns out to be – spoilers! – why does she end up married to him in the first place? We have hints of why her first husband left her, but is that the whole story?

So what I have ready to go is DISCOVERING THE HEART’S DUTY, from the viewpoint of Kristine (McHenry) David’s mother in the aftermath of her divorce and the choices she makes to become the woman we know later in THE HEART’S DUTY. I have a feeling I’m going to discover levels of complexity to her character that were not apparent to me doing the other book. I have a month and 50K of words to find out!

Comic-Con Bound July 19, 2013

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Commuting back and forth to San Diego Comic-Con. Be watching over at Infinite House of Books at http://www.house-of-books for some commentary and highlights.

Going Where The Eyeballs Are But Staying True To It All June 17, 2013

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An interesting discussion came up when I was at my grandmother’s memorial service. When I was there, some people asked me didn’t I want to be in animation and were trying to figure out what I do now (writing self-published fiction and quality assurance for family focused websites) still fit in with that. It took a bit of explaining, but the shortest version is that the venues in which the medium of animation is being used is changing. In order to be able to move with the times, and perhaps work my way into something more directly tied in with the production of animation – though the lines are getting less and less clear – I’ve been versing myself and becoming more proficient in mobile media as a whole which strongly seems to be the future of where animation is being made for. Several years ago, I thought the next logical leap might be actually be viewers taking control of their own stories in the form of things such as the multiplayer online game, like a choosing one’s own adventure book on a massive scale; turns out that wasn’t quite where things were at looking back. In case you’ve ever wondered how I left television animation came to apply at and  ultimately spend several years in the kids and family virtual worlds realm. It’s always been about story and animation as a medium in the end, not necessarily the venue in which the animation appears. As things change, it’s required a lot of out of the box thinking and being able to redefine what things mean. Through a series of events I did not set into motion, I came to work quality assurance for kids and family websites that now feature video and may be the medium to be in for the future. So as far as I’m concerned I’m still very much doing what I want to do. I’ve echoed that theme often in this blog, that flexibility is key so long as you stay with the passion and the heart of what you want to do.

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!”


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.