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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

 

Summer Contest Runner Up--Shannon Schuren

WOW: Shannon, congratulations to you for earning a Runner Up space! How does this make you feel?

Shannon: Thanks so much! I can’t even describe it. When I received the news that I was in the top ten, I screamed so loudly I scared my husband. This is the first contest I’ve placed in, and really the first recognition I’ve received for my writing, so it’s very special for me.

WOW: We’re honored to be part of the excitement! What was the motivation behind "Wilde Women"?

Shannon: The experiences that the sisters share in “Wilde Women” are a mixture of memories I have from different vacations we took when I was a child. I wasn’t really sure where I was going when I began writing. I just had these recollections in my head that I wanted to get on paper. The story grew from there.

WOW: It grew well! In your bio you state that you’re the author of several short stories and two novels. Could you describe these accomplishments?

Shannon: All right, but feel free to stop me if I ramble on too long. I had always wanted to write, and had always kept a file of my dreams, newspaper clippings, and other sparks of ideas that I thought I could develop into interesting novels one day. Well, the file kept getting bigger, and as I was about to turn thirty, I realized that if I kept putting my writing off for “one day,” one day would never arrive. So I sat myself down and wrote a novel titled BEDEVILED GLASS. It’s a paranormal/gothic mystery about an architectural preservationist who is called in to restore an old stained glass ceiling. During the project, she discovers that the ceiling is tied to the previous owner’s disappearance. It took me three years to write, but I learned so much along the way, about writing and about myself. Now, I am in the process of looking for an agent, which has been a whole different learning experience!

I also took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time last year, and successfully completed a middle-grade novel titled How to Host a Ghost. The characters are loosely based on my two daughters, and because they inspired the book, I made the decision to self-publish on Lulu.com, so I could give them a copy as a Christmas gift. It is available for sale at major online bookstores and also at some local retail stores. I’m certainly not getting rich off the sales, but it is rewarding to know that my book is in print and being enjoyed by readers.

Most of the short stories I’ve written were for contests. My own ideas tend to be more geared toward novels, so I wanted to see if I could actually tell a story in less than 80,000 words. This led me to some of the prompt-based online contests, like the Writer’s Weekly 24-hour fiction contest, and the WOW! quarterly contests. I have only entered those contests where I felt like I could do something original with the prompt, so I really owe this success to whoever wrote the summer prompt. Thanks for a job well done!

WOW: You’re very welcome from all of us at WOW! You also mentioned that you spend your spare time working on your next book. Would you like to tell us about it?

Shannon:
I’d love to! I’m currently working on a suspense novel about a woman who is pregnant with her third child and believes that someone is stalking her. However, she suffered from anxiety and depression in her first two pregnancies, so she has trouble convincing people--including herself--that the danger isn’t all in her head.

I tend to be an anxious kind of person, especially when it comes to my children. Writing this book has been a lot of fun because I’ve taken some of my obsessive tendencies and fears and magnified them about 200%.

WOW: You are definitely energetic. You must find encouragement from other books or authors, right?

Shannon: Absolutely. I love authors. I go to book signings the way some people go to rock concerts. I’ve gotten to meet Lisa Scottoline, Janet Evanovich and Michael Perry in person (though not at the same time!). They were all fabulous and inspiring, although my meeting with Lisa was my favorite; it was a small gathering, and she actually gave me some personal encouragement about writing. I also love to go to other authors’ websites. I have no idea why, but I find it endlessly fascinating to read about each of their unique writing processes. Some of my favorites are www.suegrafton.com, www.evanovich.com, www.lisascottoline.com, and www.louissachar.com. Often, when I’m experiencing writer’s block, I get online and peruse their websites for some little bits of wisdom.

WOW: I’ll have to try that some time. Good advice. Do you have any other goals for your writing career?

Shannon: Just the usual. Find an agent, get published, make enough money so I can retire and write full time and hire a maid! Honestly, right now I’m just happy to be writing, and very grateful for my husband, children, and friends who are so supportive of my literary endeavors. And, of course, to WOW! for giving me the opportunity to have my first story and first interview published online. Thanks, WOW!

WOW: That’s sweet! In addition to the authors you’ve listed above, do you care to recommend any craft books on writing?

Shannon: I highly recommend Writing the Breakout Novel by literary agent, Donald Maas. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in one of his workshops this past spring, and it was the most intense, insightful, and useful workshop I’ve ever attended. I came home with thirty-seven pages of handwritten notes for my current novel!

WOW: That’s fabulous! Could you end on some writerly wisdom?

Shannon:
If you have the desire to write, then write. Don’t make it a “one day” activity. Don’t worry that it won’t be any good, or that no one will want to read it.

For those who would like to write a novel but don’t feel you have the time or willpower or imagination, consider taking part in NaNoWriMo this November. It’s exhilarating to attempt to write a novel in 30 days, and it really pushes your creativity and imagination to the next level. At least it did for me. Plus, if you finish, you get a cool icon you can download and add to your email signature! You can find more information at their website: www.nanowrimo.org.

Thanks, Shannon. You're an inspiration. I think I'll get right to my writing!

Readers, please check out her winning entry here.

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