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Website Wonders

28 Nov

 Website Wonders:

Every month, I share all of the websites I come across that I find helpful, humorous, or just awesome. Below, you’ll find all of November’s Website Wonders categorized into Writing, Reading, and Other.

If you enjoy these websites, be sure to follow me on Twitter because I share even more websites and photos like this there.



First, I want to recommend subscribing to the Laugh Riot Report. Every month, Laugh Riot Press sends you The Darling Dozen, 12 self-publishing blogs to help you on your writing journey. And it’s free. Click here for more info.

4 Ways to Solve Your Holiday Book Marketing Problems Now: Because the holidays are upon us, be prepared!

30 Days of Writing Prompts: Because we could all use an extra push.

5 Weak Words to Avoid & What to Use Instead: (Infographic) Love infographics. Love straight-to-the-point infographics even more.

Click for source

Click for source


Katniss and Hermione Take Aim at Each Other in New Princess Rap Battle: Self-explanatory glory.

Worst Romance Heroes Hall of Fame: Rapey! I don’t normally post “worst” lists, but…I made an exception.

50 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature: “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”


The Brain of a Serial Killer: Because Shannon likes reading about serial killer. I’m a writer. This shouldn’t even be a surprise.

Adorable 5-Month-Old Domesticated Fox Helps Raise Awareness for Her Species: I also ended up following her on Instagram.

Ten Movies That Will Keep You Indoors:  I love movies.


This past week, hit 20,000 followers! Thank you, everyone!


salebThe Black Friday Sale for The Timely Death Trilogy has begun! From now until November 30, you can get the first book in the trilogy for free and the second book for only .99¢ on Smashwords. Use the code WS34V at the links below to read more this holiday season.

Minutes Before Sunset

Seconds Before Sunrise

Death Before Daylight

Don’t Understand #MorallyComplicatedYA? Here’s Some Info.

25 Nov

Whoa! Shannon is posting outside her regularly scheduled posts. What?

Yes. I am. Because this is a big deal.

At first I was only going to share fellow YA female writers who have written morally complex novels that often included violence, but I understand more want actual info…which I will provide links to below. But, before that, here was my original post:


Many of you probably saw me lose my lid last night and all day today. I normally followed up my rants with #MorallyComplicatedYA. If you didn’t get involved, you still can. Basically, please share YA books with female protagonists who are morally complicated (so basically every character in existence), but please share books written by females. I don’t want to bring more attention to the author who basically dissed the entire YA industry, especially females in general, but it seems that it’s the only way to get people to fight back. Here are some articles for more information. Some discuss the actual events, others are reaction pieces, others explain the importance of this. Get involved. Bring attention to the right books.

First, the article that started it all:

YA Debut Gets Six-Figure Deal, Sold to 16 Territories

Now Victoria Avevard discussing why this is so upsetting:

What Are Your Thoughts on Scott Bergstrom?

Now some repercussions and harsh truths about the publishing industry:

If you enjoy a good book and you’re a woman, critics think you’re wrong.

Another sum-up to get you motivated again:

YA Author Criticizes Genre for Lack of Morally Complicated Books 

Why we should be positive instead of negative:

In Which We Are Thankful For The Legacy of Others.

And books we SHOULD be reading and sharing:

17 Books That Prove YA is Morally Complicated

Share your favorite female authors. Share your favorite morally complicated books. Share your favorite YA series. Discuss it. Inform others. Bring attention to books that deserve it.  

Here are some of my FAVORITE #MorallyComplicatedYA novels written by females.


The Conjurer’s Riddle by Andrea Cremer: The second book in The Inventor’s Secret series expands the world to the rebellion, showing that everything and everyone Charolette has fought for might not be good after all. This includes her family, her friends, and the losses in between…and she might have to fight everything she knows without understanding why.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz: This terrifying tale revolves around a bloody war. Racism, prostitution, and cannibalism are discussed numerous times, and not everything is morally black and white.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski: The second book in The Winner’s Trilogy, Kestrel also finds herself making personal sacrifices surrounding her own happiness and family in order to keep a country together that might not be well-intended.

The White Rose by Amy Ewing: My current read, also the second book in The Lone City. Violet must disrupt a rebellion she knows nothing about in order to follow her gut and save friends.

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare: The second book in The Infernal Devices follows Tess as she is pulled between family, loss, new friends, and a lack of identity in a violent world.


#WW Writing Help from the World

25 Nov

About a week ago, it began to thunderstorm in the middle of November…and it rained for three days. The storm—insignificant to many—took me back to when I was a preteen and first writing Bad Bloods. I recalled how much I enjoyed the overall storyline but struggled with the simple aspects of the novel, mainly the weather.

It seems silly, doesn’t it? Here I was, able to write a storyline in a made-up world with imagined characters, but I couldn’t figure out something as mundane as the weather patterns. In fact, one of the aspects I had to change in the rewrite was the moon cycle, which ended up being a lot more complicated than I ever predicted. (Mainly because the moon plays a significant role in the book.) But we’ll get to that issue in a minute.

A little background on my yet-to-be-released two-part series: Bad Bloods takes place in November of 2089. So, literally, the entire story happens in 30 days. The original version only happened between November 1 to November 27—because I wasn’t the best at pacing yet—and this created an interesting conundrum when I went back to rewrite it. The two main problems? I wanted the story to happen from November 1 to November 30, and I wanted the full moon to happen on the exact date it will happen in the future year of 2089. The original version was off, but the original version had a lot to tell me. And while I think many writers look at this example as pretty extreme—considering the decade that passed between the original and the rewrite—I think we can look at this lesson of mine as an example of a writer’s first draft going into the initial editing stages. There’s a lot to do. And some of it can be overwhelming. (As an extra, you can check out a map of the calendar to show just how much changed from the first version to the second version. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV and pink stands for Serena’s POV. I even included the new split between November Rain, part one, and November Snow, part two. The new one will now be on the Extras page instead of the old one.)

As an extra, here's a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel's POV, Pink is Serena's POV, and I included the new split.

As an extra, here’s a comparison on how the calendar changed. Blue stands for Daniel’s POV, Pink is Serena’s POV, and I included the new split.

When I was eleven and first writing it, I knew I wanted nature to play a significant role, but I didn’t want to be a cliché. I didn’t want it to rain when characters were crying, and I didn’t want it to thunderstorm when something bad was about to happen or when someone was angry. It sounds simple enough, but it’s very tempting to allow the weather to foreshadow the characters when you’re trying to make it important. But I wanted it to be symbolic on its own, like an addition to the antagonist being the city rather than one political leader. The question was how to go about it.

I didn’t have a clue, and I remembered being very frustrated as I tried different things over and over. I even recall talking to my dad about how I couldn’t get the weather to feel natural. And that’s when he pointed something out that is so simple I couldn’t believe it never occurred to me

Why not just use natural weather?

So, I did. (Thanks, Dad.)

That year, when November rolled around, I recorded exactly what happened, and I went through the book and added it in. Amazingly, it worked out perfectly, and nature gave me the perfect symbol without me having to force it. This is also why the full moon was on a different date in the original than it should’ve been. Even though the moon has now been changed in the rewrite, the weather has remained the same.

This wasn’t an easy task in the rewrite—keeping many elements while changing others—but it is a delight to know that my answers were, quite literally, right outside my window.


#WW Writers Who Don’t Write

18 Nov

Recently, I came across an encouraging article by J.H. Moncrieff. And here you are: Writers, we need to stop saying this. To sum it up, Moncrieff speaks out against the phrase “Writers write” and encourages everyone to be more realistic. “Writers write whenever they can.” Way to go, Moncrieff!

I love that she posted this, and I love that she posted this during NaNoWriMo. Don’t get me wrong. I think NaNoWriMo is great—an exciting adventure for many—and it’s an opportunity to connect with others. I’ve never done it myself, mainly because I know in my gut that it isn’t right for me due to my own methods of writing. But I’ve seen a lot of writers have a lovely time. That being said, I’ve also seen a lot of pressure around joining it…and due to that pressure, I see a lot of writers feeling like they’re “less” of a writer for not joining NaNoWriMo or keeping up on their word count or attending other writing-related activities, like traveling to writing events or not writing in a certain genre or not posting on social media regularly or blah, blah, blah.

There is so much pressure out there to always be doing something and not enough acknowledgement in the writing community that writers are human too. We take days off. Some take years off. Hundreds deal with writer’s block, and everyone has personal issues that will disrupt them at some point in time.

Personally, I step away from my writing all the time, so I thought I’d share some of my times when I don’t write. It’s not that I’m giving up. It’s that I need to go sit outside and drink some coffee and listen to the wind for a while. (You know, Pocahontas style.) Maybe when I get inside, I need to cuddle with one of my three cats. (Or maybe one of my cats needs to cuddle with me.) Maybe I had a long day at work and I just want to roll around on my couch until I fall asleep. After all, I don’t write full time. I edit full time. And being on the computer all day sometimes makes it really difficult to get back on the laptop to write. Since I work the night shift now, I’ve recently felt guilty for missing the first half of #1lineWed every Wednesday. They start on Twitter as early as 7 a.m., and since I don’t go to bed until 4 a.m., I often don’t wake up until 1 p.m. So, even though it’s not a “necessity,” it’s something I enjoy, and my work schedule doesn’t correlate with it…but I still try.

Recent non-writing moments: Reading with my cat, baking, traveling, and crossword puzzles.

Recent non-writing moments: Reading with my cat, baking, traveling, and crossword puzzles.

Mainly, I know I always worry about the ever-present question lingering around this career I love so much. “When’s the next book coming out?”

Personally, I take this question as a compliment. Readers are excited for my next release? Yay! But I definitely don’t want to disappoint them. So, I sometimes lose it and turn into a red-eyed zombie at my laptop, trying to meet deadlines that aren’t even there. When this happens, I’m not even productive. I end up having to delete thousands of words because I was forcing rather than focusing, pushing keys rather than writing, and it’s difficult to know the difference some days.

Sometimes not writing is the best thing a writer can do. Sometimes writing is.

It’s all about knowing what is right for you.


In my next newsletter, you’ll receive a Black Friday Sale for Seconds Before Sunrise book 2 in The Timely Death Trilogy, so be sure to sign up here, but if you need a head start on the first book and you just can’t wait for the others…

Minutes Before Sunset: book 1 (FREE)

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

Death Before Daylight: book 3

AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboGoodreads

#MondayBlogs: My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined

9 Nov


While many claim there is one publishing formula, there are hundreds, and the more writers you meet, the more variations of publishing journeys you hear. I find them fascinating, and I’m always eager to hear another’s story. Today’s writer is sharing his. Welcome author Shane Joseph.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in guest articles are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect my own. To show authenticity of the featured writer, articles are posted as provided (a.k.a. I do not edit them). However, the format may have changed.

My Writer’s Story: Different to the One I Imagined by Shane Joseph

Our times are generating many more writers than demand can bear. This is due to better education, improved health, technology, inflated egos in an age of “me first,” and due to our eternal quest for immortality. The ambition to be a writer usually begins in our formative years and is inspired by our favourite writers. As a teenager, I was greatly influenced by Greene, Steinbeck and Hemingway; I dreamt of sending manuscripts out into the world where they would become best-sellers and make me a reclusive millionaire. I would hide out in some remote island and submit more manuscripts and continue to dazzle the world with my brilliance until I was invited to a cold capital in Europe to accept the Nobel Prize. And I would refuse that honour, making me an enigmatic figure like Jean-Paul Sartre, Boris Pasternak or J.D. Salinger. It was nice to dream!

The reality, even back then, was different. I had chosen to gloss over the private demons my literary heroes had to overcome in order to achieve their fame: dual lives, alcoholism, drug addiction, persecution, shell-shock (called PTSD today), hypertension, depression, divorce, estrangement, chronic pain, and suicide staring out of the barrel of a gun. Not forgetting the early struggles with rejection and penury that they each triumphed over. These trials gave impetus to their work and are mentioned only in discreet biographies, not on the glossy covers of their books.

My writer’s story turned out differently to my idealized dream. For instance, I didn’t imagine that after hacking away at this craft in my early twenties in a developing country where English was a second language, and after having a handful of stories published, I would pack up my authorly tools and try something easier to earn a living – Greene, Steinbeck et al, be damned! I never realized that the “other living,” at a corporate job, would come so easily, and earn such a handsome income, that I wouldn’t bother with the writing game again for another twenty years. I didn’t realize that it would be the curse of “guilt” that would bring me back to reopen the dusty toolbox and start to catch up to where the literary world had evolved in the intervening years.

Once “Take Two” started however, the stories and novels came easily, and are likely to continue into the future, health permitting. It was like a dam had burst and all that had been stored for years came gushing out. But the publishing landscape had changed, drastically. Prizes sold books now. And the prize money was cornered among the “1% of the 1%” in the literary hierarchy. There was no middle class in publishing anymore – there was a huge gulf between the self-published and the best-seller, and the only way to bridge the two was with a stroke of luck.

But with every closing door there were others opening. There were now many ways in which to be published, I discovered, thanks to evolving technology that had finally demolished the dominant publishing model of eons, which was: publish a large quantity of paper books on ancient printing presses until unit costs become affordable, ship them across the land in trucks into stores that couldn’t keep track of them, receive most of them back after awhile to be shredded, then start the cycle again, and hope like hell that governments or private donors supported this inefficiency in the interest of promoting the arts. That was the model in which my heroes had thrived, and now it was dying, supplanted by DIY publishing, POD, electronic media, subscriptions services, free story sites, social media, and blogs like the one you are reading. And my heroes were dead too.

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

I enthusiastically tried all the models available, traditional and new, and discovered that they all had their pros and cons, but as their readerships’ were distinct, this lack of homogeneity helped plaster me all over the map, assuaging my guilt for having neglected “the gift.” There was also no way I could hide out in a remote island, I realized; I had to be front and centre in the global public domain (a.k.a. the Internet, which also never existed during the time of my literary heroes) selling my wares like a shoe salesman. I even started a publishing house, using the new technology, and have helped bring other writers into print, ones who may have been sitting for years in the slush piles of the Big Five (or is it Four, now – hard to keep track!). The joy of bringing others’ work into the world, to watch them stand on the podium reading from their debut novel at their book’s launch gives me immense satisfaction. I was doing my bit to restore the middle class in publishing. And I finally faced the darker side: the rejection, the shrunken revenue streams, the even further shrunken attention spans, and the need for that other source of income to fuel this one. None of this had been part of my teenage dream.

And so I have accepted that my writer’s story is different from the one I had visualized in my youth. Creative visualizers, take note: it doesn’t always turn out the way you paint it in your mind. But it can be a damned sight more interesting and surprising. Why go on a trip where every stopover is carefully laid out, predictable and boring? Where would the thrill of the unexpected lie? Isn’t that what we try to create in our work – the unexpected?

So Dear Reader, what was your writer’s dream, and how did it pan out?


(Shane Joseph is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories, and was the winner of the best fantasy novel award at the Canadian Christian Writing Awards in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in international literary journals and anthologies. His latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador, will be released in November 2015. For details visit

Want to be a guest blogger? Now is the time to submit. I will be stopping guest blog posts in December, but before then, I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. Pictures, links, and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at


#WW Pitch Competitions

4 Nov

Although many of you know me as an author, I work a full-time day job as an editor and marketer. I also give publishing advice and help writers with their websites. It was during this job one of my clients asked me if I had ever participated in a #Pitch competition.

If you don’t know what this is, don’t worry! I didn’t either. Not at first anyway. In fact, I embarrassingly admitted to my client that I once participated in the Twitter feed to talk to other writers without realizing a competition was going on. (This is actually okay, since it’s about making friends, but the Twitter feed is generally for those who have entered or plan to enter in the future.)

All of the Pitch competitions are different, but they generally have a theme, are run by a number of agents and mentors, and at the end, a couple of lucky authors get to skip the slush pile and apply to agents and publishers directly. Most of them you apply to via email (following all the rules!), and then you have daily discussions via Twitter while the agents are picking winners. That’s the basic rundown.

Now, after I talked to my client about this, I told them I would do some more research and figure out how to join the next one and what to do during it. Huzzah! #PitchSlam and #NoQS (Nightmare on Query Street) were taking place about a month in the future. (These events happened in October. Isn’t this time warp thing crazy?) I found the rules via the hosts’ blogs, and I relayed all of the information and deadlines. I told my client everything, but they still weren’t sure. They wanted personal information from someone with firsthand experience.

So…I joined.

At the time I was struggling with approaching my own publisher with my pitch for my latest manuscript, so I figured why not get advice from people in the industry? I was too close to the manuscript—much in a way that an editor can’t edit his or her own writing alone—and I needed help from someone else.

I entered #PitchSlam

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

One of my favorite PitchSlam tweets

I am going to start out by saying, I LOVED this entire experience. Not only was there an awesome theme surrounding Harry Potter, but there was also three separate days of events and support from the agents and the community. On day 1, 200 lucky writers received feedback on their 35-word pitch. On day 2, another 200 lucky writers received feedback on their first 250 words. I was super lucky. I was picked on both days, and by the end of the week, six mentors had helped me fine-tune my project.

I was through the roof. And from reading the feed, so were many other writers.

Pitch competitions are priceless. I made friends in the writing community I might not have ever made, and I learned a lot from those around me. I had fun, and I never once saw someone feel defeated by “losing.” Because there is no “losing” in these competitions. There’s just friendship, support, understanding, and teaching.

I highly recommend trying one out if you have a completed manuscript and you’re looking for an agent/publisher and/or honest/professional feedback on your work (or even if you just want to make some writer friends)!

Just to help you out, here is some extra information on upcoming ones:

  • Follow @Michelle4Laughs on Twitter for information on Sun versus Snow, a query competition coming in January. Info.
  • There’s another PitchSlam in March of 2016 as well. Info here. It’s a bi-annual contest. Here’s a list of the PitchSlam Profressors. Follow them for future updates.
  • News on PitchWars: They’ll have news on the next one after the New Year: Info.
  • Pitch Madness starts in February: Info

So get ready for the next one! I’m sure it’ll be fun. And of course, I wish you the best of luck. (And of course, be sure to follow those rules!)


October’s Ketchup

31 Oct

October’s Ketchup

First of all, Happy Halloween! Second of all, have a piece of candy for me today. And finally, thanks for being part of my life this October. Between the paperback of Death Before Daylight releasing and the KC book signing, it’s safe to say that this month was wonderful, but as usual, the best part was talking to you all!

For those of you just now checking in this month, Ketchup actually means “catch up.” At the end of every month, I write these posts describing what goes on behind the scenes at Some of the topics I cover include my big moments, top blog posts, my top referrer, #1 SEO term, and more in order to show insights that will hopefully help fellow bloggers see what was popular. I also hope it entertains the readers who want “extras” for this website.

Thank you for being a part of my life this October!

Big Moments:

As I stated above, the paperback of Death Before Daylight finally arrived! I’m beyond thrilled that The Timely Death Trilogy is out in full. You can even purchase the entire trilogy all at once. (Pretty awesome!) To celebrate, Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri hosted a Halloween-themed book signing, and it was wonderful! We talked about the folklore in the trilogy as well as other spooky topics. I even sold out of my Halloween-themed box sets this month! I’m so glad you all are enjoying the paranormal tale, and I hope to bring you new stories in the future. In fact, I sent off my next manuscript to my publisher this month for review. Keep your fingers crossed for me please.

Stay Dark,


#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

#1 Clicked Item was Minutes Before Sunset on Amazon

Top Three Blog Posts: 

#1 SEO Term

#1 SEO Term

1. How To Be The Perfect Writer: After listening to an inspiring TED Talk, I wrote this piece on the perception of perfection and the destruction of fearing to fail.

2. Bullies and Their Writers: October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and my publisher participates by having authors tell their stories and host giveaways. This was my story.

3. KC Event and Character Interviews: I had a book signing, but since many of you couldn’t make it—due to, you know, living all around the world—I posted two never-before-seen character interviews, one with Eric Welborn and one with Jessica Taylor, from The Timely Death Trilogy.


Other Blog Posts:

Saturday Update: The Intern, Salman Rushdie, Crimson Peak, and More: I saw a few movies, read a few books, and talked about more entertainment.

Replenishing Your Reserves by Journaling by B. Lynn Goodwin: Writing is fun, but it can also be good for your health!

#1 Referrer was WordPress' Reader

#1 Referrer was WordPress’ Reader

Changes: What I’m Doing: My life has gotten a bit crazier, so I explain why I changed Saturdays to fun days and how guest blogging will be affected it the near future.

Saturday Update: Crimson Peak, Submissions, Adele, M&Ms, and More: I’m enjoying these Saturday Updates. In this one, I talked about my latest submission to CTP, movies, and desserts.

Finding Your Author’s Voice by Ryan Attard: Finding your voice can be difficult, but this article explains just how you can do it.

Biggest Benefits of Reading by Dissertation Planet: Reading is more than just reading. This article explains how it also helps your life.

Saturday Update: Hannibal, The Jewel, Penny Dreadful, Chocolate, and More: I went on a trip to the hometown of Mark Twain, I read a few books, and I ate wonderful desserts.

Music as Writing Inspiration by Audrey Leaman: We could all use a little more music in our writing lives.

Website Wonders: A montly classic

At the end of the month, I also like to take a moment to thank all of the websites who supported me by posting reviews, interviews, and features. If you want to be one of these websites, feel free to join my newsletter or email me at I always love speaking with new bloggers, writers, and readers! I will also share your post on all of my websites.


Death Before Daylight: Black Words, White Pages

Calculated on October 28 at 19,878 followers

Calculated on October 28 at 19,878 followers



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