Tag: TNEE2016



I’m back in the writer’s seat this week after TNEE lit a fire under my butt. Nothing inspires fear like being around other writers who are knocking out three, four, or hell, maybe even six books a year. Holy macaroni. Talk about a “coming to Jesus” moment.

Having said that, being back on Betrayer has given me a bit of insight into my own writing style, which I’m going to record here for posterity:

I am a plotter not a pantster

There are generally two type of writers – those who are organizers, who outline everything, who don’t write a word without having a strict plan of where they’re going in their story, and then there are those crazy people who just go for it, hope for the best, dig right in without a care in the word, and generally laugh at all of us OCDers.

I have a lot of envy even respect for pantsters. Not in a million years could I write a whole novel without a map. Possibly a short story, but never something that is going to be almost 300 pages long. I’m just not capable of staying on course that long. I could start out writing a vampire romance and end up in a high fantasy with elves. So for something as complicated as The Shining Ones series where I’m balancing multiple sub-plots plus two fictitious worlds (spoiler alert) and of course, the main story line, I have to be on my toes, and the only way for me to do that is to outline, outline, outline.

And unlike what pantsters may think, we plotters do have grand moments also where the trolley goes off the track into a glittering, sparkly over-the-top mound of pure creative genius, where characters take control or something so utterly unexpected happens that you wonder if you’re channeling your inner Stephen King. Just because we plot doesn’t mean we don’t get carried away in a good way. Even with a iron-tight outline, Watcher did not end up where I expected – both in a good and bad way.

Editing monster

On both my previous books, I was an editing monster, and what I mean by this is that I would edit the hell out of the book every step of the way. Not just once, not even twice, but mulitple reads, multiple large edits. Every day. All the time. Before I’d start writing for the day, I’d be editing.

Even though it goes against the grain for me, I’m gonna say it out loud: Editing during the first draft is not a good idea. It’s chokes creativity and slows you down. Don’t do it. Get it all out on paper first, write faster than you ever have, and then start the editing process once you get the words “The End” on the page.

I have not listened to this advice twice now, and it’s has completely shafted me. It will take you forever to finish and burn you out before you even get to the major edits with an editor. Don’t get bogged down in the minutiae until you’ve got your draft finished.


Steady as she goes – 2K/day limit

The most words I’ve ever knocked out in a day is around 10K. That was probably one of the longest days of my writing career and an anomaly to say the least. It just doesn’t work that way for me (see below). I also found that after pushing myself that hard my next couple of days were hardly what I would’ve described as “productive”; they were, in fact, a mini burn out. I pushed too hard and paid the price for the remainder of that week.

There are some authors where 10K words a day are normal. I’m not one of those authors, and there’s definitely no way that I’ll have 10K of quality words either. Not only did I kick my own ass writing too much, but I probably threw away half of that work when it came time to editing. And that sucks.

I’m a big believer in pacing my creativity. My motto is if I can get 2K of words done a day that have quality and substance then I’m quids in. 5-6K of words that I just end up throwing away doesn’t do me any good and only serves to frustrate me further. Also, side note, it’s not an efficient use of my creativity.

So that’s what I aim for – 2,000 words a day.

Scene by scene

If I think too hard about writing a 300 page book, I still panic. Even though I’ve done it twice now, that anxiety hasn’t gotten any better, and there are days, like today, where I want to punch my inner muse right in the face for even remotely suggesting writing a series in the first place.

The only way I know how to deal with that level of anxiety, especially at the start of a new book, is to avoid thinking about the big picture, and start thinking of it in smaller chunks. In other words, while my heart may be screaming, “OH MY GOD. THREE HUNDRED PAGES!” at me over and over again, my brain has gone for a much more reasonable approach of “You can do anything for a week. Just write this scene this week then you can stop.”

And it works. I trick myself into taking it scene by scene (hence the outline, people) and by the time I’ve gritted my teeth and made it through that scene, I’m ready to start the process over again, and hammer my way through. Before I know it, I’m five or six chapters in and at this stage, have bought in, so I’m good to go for about 70% of the book. Don’t ask about the last 30% – that’s another blog post.

But the point is that by breaking my chapters down into multiple scenes and focusing on them one at a time, I can push my way through the anxiety/writer’s procrastination and get the job done. I highly recommend it to any author struggling alone, and a book that talks about this in depth is Make A Scene by Jordan E. Rosenfeld. Great book, worth reading.

Back to the grindstone. My next post this week will be about reviews. Trust me, it’ll be a doozy.


xo shawnee





TNEE roundup


I’m home. After a 9 hour journey and more mileage on my car then I care to think about, I made it home from TNEE 2016 in Atlanta. I’m still super tired, and I’m back on Betrayer today, but I wanted to give a quick re-cap for those who’re interested in my first ever con event.

This is my low down:


Be the person everyone else wants you to be

Contrary to usual wisdom, I’m going out on a limb here because let’s face it, most writers aren’t exactly extroverts, and we need all the help we can get. If you’re going to go to any event where it’s not just the public, but actual readers or god forbid, your personal fans, you have got to be the person they want you to be even if you have to drag it out of you kicking and screaming. That means no hiding in the corner, no aloofness, no holier-than-thou-you-will-bow-down-before-me sort of attitude. It will get you nowhere. If you go to any convention or show, you must be flexible and prepared to roll with the punches. In addition to this, you must actually enjoy yourself. No, really. They are there to see you and get to know your work. Let them in and everyone will be happy that you did.

SWAG is king

It’s the candied crack that we hand out at shows to get fan attention. I didn’t really understand the extent of this until after I got to the show. Now to be fair, I didn’t come empty-handed. I was smart enough the read the hell out of the FB author page to get a small glimpse of what we were talking about here so I came with totes, pens, bookmarks, stickers, biz cards, and personalized M&Ms. Yep, M&Ms with my name on them. But still, it probably wasn’t enough. Yeah, everyone says swag doesn’t matter, it’s all about you, but honestly, we have all drank the kool-aid. There is an expectation for authors to pamper the fans, and that’s what this specific event is about – connecting directly with readers. Next time, I’ll come more prepared. It’s time to up the ante in the swag wars.

Romance fans are wild

I already knew this from lurking around some romance panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book, but to go into the trenches is something else. There is a level of dedication to me that is astounding. I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again. There is no one quite like a romance fan – they are all in. And loyalty? Yeah, no need to even talk about it. I had a blast hanging with all my girls even though technically I’m not a romance writer. Still, even with that, they accepted me and that’s pretty groovy.

I’m not a romance writer

I always pegged myself as someone who straddled between the genres of urban fantasy and paranormal romance: urban fantasy with a refreshing romantic twist so to speak. After being at TNEE and having an in-depth conversation with Melanie Marchande about what constitutes romance, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am definitely not a romance writer by standard definition. I don’t guarantee HEAs (happily ever afters) and I sure as hell don’t engage in menage since somewhere my dad is probably reading this very post (ps – he’s a big fan). So how do I feel about that revelation? I’m not sure. It sort of reminds me yet again that I don’t fit in any one place, but no one seemed to point a finger at me at TNEE and say, “Where is the naked man on your cover? You shall not pass!” (Tolkien nerd alert)

So even given that admission, I’ve signed up for AAD in Savannah in August. We’ll see how it goes.

Peace out.

xo shawnee


Mutterings of a mad mind


Right now, I’m all over the place. I’m in the final countdown for TNEE 2016 as we gain speed and race towards the weekend. Tuesday is going to be here before I know it, and while I’m mostly organized, there’s also a part of me that is scrambling like a wee mad thing trying to ensure that everything is on my list. Hint: everything isn’t.

But let’s not worry about that right now, eh? Instead, here are a few musings from my brain this week that need to get out . . .


I have not just one, but two editors plus a whole host of additional professionals behind me to make sure that I’m not releasing rubbish. I’ve said this over and over on this blog having learned the hard way myself: no self-respecting indie author should release a book without a qualified editor *EVER* even if you are an editor yourself. Your brain is wired to your thought and speech patterns. It will miss so many grammatical mistakes, typos, word switcheroos that you’ll wonder if some grammar goblin came in the middle of the night and fucked with your manuscript. Just don’t do it. Pay the money and have someone go through it at least twice. Even better if you get a content/vision editor on board first who will rip your darling apart and give you the best damn advice of your career. Life it too short to read badly written fiction much less create it. If you want to be a professional author, please for the love of all things holy, act like one.


I’m a sleep monster so without it, um, I’m also a monster. A very scary, emotionally psychotic beast of epic proportions. You people who have infants should get Pulitzer Prizes – every single one of you. Anyone with great insomnia tricks, hook me up with your solutions.


My life is extremely boring. I like it that way. Right up to the point that I have to something major to do, cue this completely crazy TNEE business . . . so why is it that as soon as I have a big thing coming up does everything else blow up? Is there a rule of odds that I don’t know about?


This post never got finished on Friday because of the post that is about to follow this one. Needless to say, while grief is a part of who we are as human beings, it’s the worst possible emotion anyone can feel. I’m feeling a lot of it today so I’ll finish on this note: enjoy every minute of your life like it’s the last. Love hard and live hard because you never know what tomorrow will bring.






Dear Reviewers . . .


Dear Reviewers,

I must admit that I’m a bit of an idiot. Call it mush brain, lack of sleep, hormones, or just going plain out crazy getting ready for TNEE 2016, but in my frenzy in updating this blog, I inadvertently changed my “Bio” page to an “About” page. That means all those emails I sent to you asking you to review my lovely tomes, yep, in that email is a broken link to my “about me” page.

You may ask why I don’t just change it back? Well, the problem is that the link is correct in about half of those emails so I’m damned if I do, and unfortunately, damned if I don’t. I am literally a horrible cliche right now.

Please don’t hold it against me. It is Monday after all.

Your humble and embarrassed Author Friend