Sunday, December 20, 2009

The reason...

Once more I am reminded that every moment of life is precious that we should live our lives to the hilt, chase our dreams no matter how crazy they might seem and love unconditionally.

We are not given to know when our time is up, when we will see our loved ones for the last time, or that perhaps words spoken in anger will be the last we remember shared. So this Christmas I will be trying to :
  • forgive someone
  • hug a little longer
  • love a little deeper
  • be grateful for the people in your life who support and love me
  • laugh till I cry
  • cry till I laugh

Those are just a few things I will be trying to do, to remember the true reason behind Christmas and hope that we can all keep the spirit of it alive throughout the rest of the year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's In!

The first edit is in, my professional editor has given the ms a read through and these are her first thoughts :

Oh, Shannon, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this! Truly fine and fun writing. I haven't enjoyed a manuscript so much in a long time.

From there, she goes into the things I will need to change and at the moment, it isn't too much and the areas of improvement are where I thought there might need to be some tweaking done.

Am I happy? YES! I had hoped she ( the editor) would be engrossed enough in the ms that she might get back to me before Christmas, but was unsure as to how realistic that hope was. Now, I am back to doing some revisions, for the most part, moving scenes around, much like I thought I would be doing with the sequel, "Lust".

I had hoped that I would be able to get my ms off to Tor/Forge by the end of January, and now it is looking like that is a distinct possibility. One that is freaking me out. And of course, I mean that in the best possible sense.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Odds n' Sods

Wanting to wrap up a few loose ends. I have decided to wait on the name changing business (Identity Theft) until I have a contract with a publisher. That way if they, the publisher, wants to try and fit Shannon J Faganello on a book cover then they can and more power to them.

I have a Facebook group page now under Shannon Mayer-- Author, my hope is to get a fair number of people joined up and use it as a "See you silly publishers, lots of people want to read my book." And then of course the publishers will give me a contract because of all the people just waiting on my book. Whether or not my theory is sound will be some time in proving, but it is fun to see all the comments from people who haven't yet been to the blog or the website.

On the Facebook page I have under "discussions" the first part of a new short story. I will also be adding the whole short story to my website in the next week. There is potential for another series with the characters. At least I think there is.

Still haven't heard back from the editor, but I think this is fairly normal from the research I have done.

Last but not least, I will be diving back into the sequel for The Chronicles of Sin: Gluttony. "Lust" is about 1/3 of the way completed, but I may have to pull it apart and rearrange some of the scenes. C'est la vie. Did I spell that right? Ah, you get the point. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Starting Out

Lately, I have had the chance to speak to several writers still in the closet. They hear me talk about my writing and the process involved and they start to get excited. Not for me, but for themselves. You see, most of these people are my clients, my farriery clients. So they see me working at a trade that doesn't take a great deal of education (besides the long apprenticeship) and think "Hey, if my farrier can write a novel, why can't I?"

I think it's great, I love that maybe some small part of my writing is inspiring others to work at it themselves, but they all ask the same question, where to start?

Buy a journal or notebook, something you can keep by the bed or dinning room table, wherever you are, it should be. And then just start writing down ideas as they come to you. They don't have to be perfect, don't worry about the spelling, just spit it out. Writing is that simple to start.

As to what happens after that, I am still in the trenches so I will not act as though I have some real knowledge to pass on. Just start small, get those ideas out and the rest will follow. Believe me, I've written two novels that were "just ideas."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Identy Theft

Okay, it was bound to happen. My vanity got the better of me and I Googled myself. What I found was spine chilling. There is another writer out there with my name, my same middle initial, who even writes in the same genre. Crap.

I have a couple of problems with this; I take a great deal of pride in my writing, try not to put anything out there in the world wide web that is something I would be embarrassed about. On top of that, writing is what I see myself doing as a career, not just a love of writing but an actual profession. I am not so sure this other gal with my name is of the same mindset. No I am not trying to be mean. I am being honest.

I don't want my name associated with someone who is writing with no thought to what other people think, tell me what happens when a publisher Googles my name and finds this other gal and her writing? Even if she was out of this world incredible, the next JRR Tolkien, I would not want someone elses work to be mistaken for mine.

So do I change my writing pseudonym back to my maiden name...gulp...Faganello? I mean, for sure it won't be copied on purpose and it certainly is original. But it's also a mouthful, most people can't spell it despite the fact that it is phonetic.

Has anyone else run into this problem? Am I being oversensitive? Or do I have a reason to be concerned?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Pressure is off?

Write it on your calendars, the countdown has begun. No, not for Christmas. I sent my full ms off to my editor today. Our contract states that she has up to six months to go through the first review of it. Although she assures me that it has never taken her that long, I think on all the times I have been told "I have never seen/heard of/had this happen before" from any number of professionals.

Unfortunately for me, I was unable to get my ms out to any of my readers early enough (Sorry Suze!) to get any feedback. So for now I will just deal with what the editor sends back to me and if at that point I need so more opinions I will hand the ms out.

For the moment, the pressure is off. Except for the sequel, that still needs to be done. And the short story I have to write by the 15th. And the two magazine articles due by the end of the month. And the...well I believe by now you get the point.

Monday, November 30, 2009

All wrapped up

Hallelujah the revisions are done! And just in time. My editor contacted me today to inform me she would be ready for my ms this week.

There are only a few minor details (spell check and chapter titles) and then it will be off to the very- expensive- hopefully- worth -all- my -money -editor. I don't know how long it will take for her to do a first read through, I know that some of my first readers were able to finish the book in about ten hours. But since she is a professional, so perhaps even that first read through will take longer. To be honest I want her to rip through it the first time, to catch the excitement and to be drawn into the characters lives.

Ah well, time will tell all and I will be passing on all the information here for good or for ill. Or mediocre. Or painful. Hmm. Lets hope against the painful part.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Trashing Others Work

There have been some conversations lately between me and a few of my writing group friends about a very interesting phenomenon. We all have seen the great success of writers such as Stephanie Meyer and Christopher Paolini. They both have come from relative obscurity to major fame and fortune in a very short time. Kudos to them both and all the other writers who have had great success.

But, not everyone is as nice as me. One day while searching through Facebook for a page on fantasy writers I found a page dedicated to hating young Paolini. The members of the group(who by the way were all "authors") trashed his writing style, story line and his character. And I have had personal experiences where minimally published writers have trashed Ms. Meyer stating that her writing was no good at all. Yet they are both National Best Sellers. How can this be?

It seems to me that these people who trash others work are just jealous, that would be the easy assumption. I think though that in trashing someone elses writing these people feel like they are the better writers, albeit undiscovered. And I think that people are forgetting that most readers aren't reading from a literary point of view, they are reading to enjoy the story and get swept away in the adventure and romance.

So I am going to put this out there right now. I am not writing a work of literary genius with hidden meanings and deep metaphors. Get ready to trash my work because it is a rip snorting adventure meant for nothing more than a great escape from the doldrums of life.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Query Gaffs

With my ms undergoing revisions, I don't have very much to report on in the way of query letters, rejections(which of course won't happen the next time around), requests for material and so on. I have however had some interesting experiences when it comes to getting feedback from agents. Allow me to elaborate.

There was the instance where I received a rejection and along with the polite decline of my ms and attached to my email were two stories. Now, neither of them were mine, both looked to be the first chapter or portion of a chapter that two individuals had sent in. This made me wonder if any portion of my ms ended up on someone else's rejection email. And no, neither story was all that good.

Or there was the time that I had a request for the first 50 pages of my ms, which coincidentally I had already sent in. The request was rather snotty so I immediately went to reply(didn't want to irritate them further) and saw that not only was my 50 pages attached at the bottom of THEIR email they had sent me, they were replying to me off of my original query that had my first 50 pages of my ms attached as per their request. Hmm. Perhaps some new glasses?

And then my favorite was the very detailed rejection letter from an agent who had requested my ms. It was a good page long, detailing why my ms wasn't what this agent was looking for. Only one problem. The name of the manuscript onthe letter was not mine. Turns out after a few back and forth emails that this agent uses this very detailed letter as their form letter to make it look like there is more put into the rejection letter than there really was and he had forgotten to change the name of the ms in the form letter. Oops.

So what does this tell you and me? Agents are human, they mess up and make mistakes just like the rest of us and sometimes there is nothing to do but laugh, particularly when receiving rejections so goofed up.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time to Write

I have been going over my notes from the Surrey Conference last month, re-reading my favorite workshops, hoping to re-tap into the motivation that I came out of the conference with. Don't get me wrong, it's not a writers block that I am dealing with, more of a "everything-gets-in-my-way-and-won't-just-leave-me-to-my-writing" sort of deal.

I would love to stay up late, write into the wee hours of the morning, except for the early wake up call to go to work. And for me, work is pretty physical, wrestling with horses all day is not something you want to do, or can do on minimal sleep.

So. Besides quitting work (one day, one day) I just have to figure out where I have the most time to set aside. Fifteen minutes here or there even would be a great start. But to be honest, I love my marathon sessions. Anywhere from three to eight hours is perfect.

I have a deadline coming up, which really is a good motivator, but even better is that I think I can use the deadline to coerce a certain husband into taking on a few more domestic duties, thus freeing time for me. Hmm. Husband + Laundry + Dinner = more time for writing initially, possibly less time later as I sort through the laundry and have to do more workouts to make up for the multiple meals of Chinese take out.

Like everyone else, I guess I will have to figure out the magic formula, when I do, I'll be sure to pass it on. Hmm. Maybe it's something like Husband + vacuuming + dishes. It does have its possibilities. ;)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PR and the Radio

Just a quick update before I get back to my revisions. I have no money now, which means of course I have made my last payment to the free lance editor I have hired. My computer keeps shutting itself off in the middle of my work for no apparent reason (my laptop is my writing computer which has saved me from mental breakdown of thinking I would lose all my writing) and I was on the radio yesterday.

The writing group I am a part of, Writing in Progress, had a spot on the local radio to promote our group. Wendy, the lady who started the writing group, asked me to go along with her for moral support. It was about a five minute blurb with the DJ asking us questions and us struggling for words. Writing is one thing, speaking is a whole other ball of wax. Actually, I thought Wendy did quite well for all her nervousness. It was me struggling to find the right words. Of course.

One of the major pluses of the radio spot is that the DJ invited us to come back as soon as any of our group gets published. Hopefully that will be me in about 6 months. But only if I get on my revisions, speaking of which...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


The next few days are going to be nothing but, well, revisions. After the conference in Surrey, I came home with a lot of ideas to help tighten up my novel, to make it flow just that much better and overall to make it far easier to publish right out of the start gate.

I hope that by the end of the week my revisions will be done or very close to being done. Which means I may not be writing on my blog much this week. Unless of course I get totally stuck and writers block takes over my brain. In which case you may see me writing on here every couple of hours to try and un-stick my mental block!

After the revisions I will be doing a last couple of read throughs with my trusty first readers (yes Suze I will be asking you!) and then I will be ready for my free lance editor. So why, you might ask, this sudden push towards perfecting my ms? At the conference I was fortunate enough to sit down with an acquisitions editor who works for Tor/Forge, the largest publisher of Sci-Fi and Fantasy in North America. Short story is she would like to see my ms. As soon as all my revisions are done. No pressure, no pressure at all :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Phobias spelled Out

Okay, the day before Halloween and I just couldn't resist. This started at the Writers conference as a way to learn new words. If I heard a word I didn't know I wrote it down in the back of my notebook and looked it up later. I found out that a misogynist was a hater of women and that gravitas was seriousness of sobriety. But my favorite new word is Peoria(sp?) the fear of having too many mashed potatoes! I have been looking for a conformation that this word exists but no such luck. However, in my search I have found some interesting phobias and some down right unbelievable phobias.

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia---the fear of long words

Logophobia---the fear of words (no worries for me there)

Mythophobia---the fear of stories or myths(hope there aren't too many of these people around)

Omphalophobia---fear of belly buttons

Papaphobia---fear of the pope

Zemmiphobia---fear of the great mole rat

And then there is my personal favorite, Dutchphobia---fear of the Dutch

So while I cannot confirm fear of too many mashed potatoes, there are quiet a few other words, and phobias,out there to be discovered. If you'd like to share some on the comments I would like to see what other people have got on their own lists of new words.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Passing it forward

Not all writers can attend a writers conference. Distance, time and money are all major factors in the decision to attend or not to attend. But that doesn't mean you can't gain a little from the things that I learned.

I, took notes!

The first author workshop I attended was with Jack Whyte. Fantastic speaker, passionate about what he does and a Scottish brogue to boot. But, this is what I learned from him which is most important :

  • Get into what motivates you, your passion, your anger, when it comes from within you, that's when it (your writing) becomes a valid
  • Beware of your inner censor. This can stifle your creativity if you are always worried about what other people think. (Including your mother, pastor, neighbour and friends)
  • Give yourself privacy. Discipline yourself to write every day, seven days a week as well as taking the time to read every day.
  • Writers block is your subconscious mind telling you that what you are trying to write is not acceptable/un-writeable. Give that section a break, then go back and try a new direction.
  • A good story cannot exist without a good character. (This was one of my favorite quotes)

Of course the workshop went on with other info, but I think this is some of the most pertinent. I am hoping to add a few notes from each of my most memorable workshops, to pass along my experience and what I gained out of it. And maybe it will help a writer or two with a different perspective on the writing life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Impressions

Back from SIWC, renewed, invigorated and motivated by the weekend. Gained knowledge, new friends (hi to all of you reading this ;), pitched my book, met with authors and moved forward in my writing journey. But that isn't what you really want to hear about. You want to know if I actually made a fool of myself. Not one to disappoint, I did make a genuine effort in that particular area.

First, the whole business of good impressions. You will recall that I mentioned in my last post before I left, that I had "extra deodorant". Well, if extra means you forget the deodorant at home than I was bang on in my understanding of the word "extra". The first day and a half I was running back to my room ever couple of hours to wash. No I wasn't running marathons, but if you will also remember, there is the nervous sweating business of pitching, letting someone reading your work and in general putting yourself out there. So, I did make a purchase (who ever head of paying $7 for Lady speed stick??) at the small store in the hotel and was smelling like baby powder from there on in. But alas, that was not the moment that stands out for me when it comes to being a fool.

I had a session with an author to read some of my work, go over what was good, what could be improved, yada yada yada. Problem being I didn't realize I should have a story for him to look at. So try and imagine explaining Robert Jordan's Eye of the world series or maybe The Lord of the Rings IN DETAIL in less than ten minutes when you are already nervous. Oh, did I mention that I was sitting down with Terry Brooks, national bestseller, who has over 30 MILLION copies of his work sold?

So as I fumbled and he tried to help me (he was very kind, like someone trying to converse with a handicapped child) I managed to confuse him completely, leave him with a lasting impression of this person, Moi, who can't even explain what she is writing about( I am quite sure he thought I was a simpleton) and I walked out shaking my head at the wasted opportunity. Oh boy.

I laugh about it now, I have to because if I don't I think I might never sit down with another author again and ask for their help. But as it was I had a second chance, not with Terry Brooks but with Robert Dugoni. But that I will leave for another post, as this one is all about mistakes and my second chance at a first impression went much better than my first chance at a first impression. Which in itself is a whole other story.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

SIWC 2009

Here I go, diving into the deep end, no life preservers, no swimming lessons and no life guard. I am heading to Surrey tomorrow for the Surrey International Writers Conference for 4 days...all be myself. EEK!

There is lots to learn, workshops to attend, people to meet and agents to pitch. Yeah that last one would be the stress that is causing pimple breakouts, sleepless nights and headaches. The Pitch. Sitting down with an editor or agent and trying to tell them all about your book, how fabulous it is and why they should take you on, in ten minutes or less. A query letter is easy, you print one up, send it off and it doesn't matter how much you're sweating, how shaky your hands are, those agents don't see it. But a pitch, right to that agents face, wow, they can see sweat stains, nervous twitches and smell that onion breath!

The trick I think is to be prepared. I have, besides my Q&A list, extra deodorant and body spray, Listerine, scope and gum, and enough makeup to weigh down that nervous twitch. Hopefully that covers all the bases, if not I may start drinking this weekend. ;)

All and all, I am terribly excited and I can't wait to tell you all about my first major conference, but I won't be able to write anything until Monday. So wait for me with baited breath, there is sure to be at least one story about me making a fool of myself.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Privileged First

As a writer there is a need for a reality check from time to time. For me, it comes in the form of my "First Readers". They are the people that I hand my baby over to, my manuscript(ms) in rough form, the people who see it before I do any major revisions, before editors and before any other form of critique. These are the people who will catch any major boo-boos in the ms, plot problems or characters that are one dimensional. They tell me if it stinks, they are completely honest with me and I appreciate that. But there is another kind of first reader out there, the kind that too often writers(myself included) are tempted to give our ms to.

They are the "everything looks fantastic and you shouldn't change a thing!" readers. Parents, spouses and good friends often fall into this category. They stroke our egos and calm our fears and anxieties. But I am going to share a secret with you about these kind of readers...


Telling a writer that their work is fantastic when in fact it is sheer drudgery to wade through only sets the writer up for failure down the road. Just because your mother says your work is the next Harry Potter, doesn't mean it's true. In fact, I would be tempted to say that it would be just the opposite. Our loved ones want to encourage and support us, so they don't tell us what they really think as in, "Holy crap that was the worst use of paper in the history of the world."

Want to improve your work before it goes to the editor? Gather together a small number of people who you would normally be afraid to show your work to. This is probably because you know they will tell you the truth, good or bad. For me, it's an older brother and a good friend, both of whom have no problem telling me if my writing sucks or if it rocks.

And if you want to be a writers "First Reader" be prepared to give the bad and the ugly with the good. Being dishonest with a writer only does us a disservice, it doesn't help at all. So break out your red pens and say what you really want to say. Don't worry, your writer can and will learn to handle it, if not, they are probably in the wrong business.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Handy Reminder

One of my clients reads palms for a living and after our appointment she offered to read my palm. Besides the two children I am going to have, my long life and the fight with my hubby a few months ago (no she did not spit in my hand and tell me I was going to have a pool) she also made some remarks about my writing that got me thinking. She said that my writing delved deep into my spiritual side and would help people without them even recognizing it. This sparked something in my mind, something I hadn't thought too much about lately with all my efforts in trying to find an agent, editor and publisher.

A writer can only hope that their work will be more than a novel, more than a story that is read once and put away on the shelf. Possibly the words you write can offer hope to someone or maybe a realization that their life could be worse, much much worse, or maybe just a good laugh to lift the blue day blues. Whatever the case, I realized that I want my work to be more than a story, at least to a few people, to have the meaning, characters and triumphs to stick to the readers ribs like oatmeal.

This is why I write, not just because it's a passion/obsession, not just because I can't imaging a future without it, but because it gives me the chance to share the truths I have learned in my life and the belief that no matter how difficult the journey, the destination is worth the ride.

Hopefully, you all agree. If not, you should really read my books.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wringing Out Words

You might wonder at the title of my blog, so let me explain, there is a reason behind it. If you look up the word "wring" in the thesaurus these words follow : contort, twist, wrench, extort, force, wrest, anguish, distress, harass, pain, wrack, torture.

That is what it can be like to write. For those of you in the trenches with me, you understand how difficult it can be to get the right word, phrase, description or character. To sit down at your desk, wrack your brain with a blank page in front of you, and know you should be filling it with a fantastic new world and to have that page stay blank. Some days you have to wring the words out, and it can be more than difficult, it can be the most gut wrenching frustration.

So in an effort to extort a few more words out of my brain, to harass my mind yet a little more, I will be blogging my journey of publishing (see: anguish, torture & pain) my literary gems.

You will all get to see my distress as I seek out agents, editors and publishing houses. As I wrest rejection letters out of the mailman's hands, force myself to write just one more chapter and twist my editors words so I can say, "See, I didn't need to change this at all."

But I am sure you will also get to see the humour and fun in this journey of mine and hopefully you might learn a thing or two from my experiences.

Of course if all else fails, I plan on becoming a contortionist.