Tuesday, November 5, 2019

NaNoWriMo19



So it's National November Writing Month and you want to give it a try.

Firstly, the website (https://www.nanowrimo.org/) should be your first resource.

When you're done looking there, come back and read me.







Ready? Okay, so it's National writing month. It's a challenge to write more. Whether you are a writer crafting novels or someone who just wants to dabble, it's all good. ALL ARE WELCOME!

That being said, as a writer, my post is going to be focused on novel writing.

I'm seeing my fellow writers posting their successes and failures on Twitter and the Facebook pages. Like, posts are ranging from "I'm in the fetal position, paralyzed by anxiety." and other posts that are like, "I just wrote 5,000+ words of my novel today!"

So what gives?

How is it that some people find that their words flow so freely whereas others are stuck in the first paragraph still?

Well, my theory is that it boils down to a few key factors.

1. Organization is key.

Writers typically fall into plotters or "Pansters", sometimes you get people in-between, but generally speaking, Pansters don't like time constraints. They don't like being funneled into the confines that dictate success.

Plotters, on the other hand, have a distinct advantage in a time-constraint type of situation because while Pansters were dreaming about their characters and scenes, Plotters were creating detailed outlines that gave them a sense of how much work.

I am normally a Panster. I write when I write and that is whatever I write. However, this time I decided to challenge my typical process. My NaNoWriMo wasn't about getting a novel on a page, it was about tinkering with my process to see if I couldn't produce a cleaner rough draft with tighter tension and a higher starting wordcount.

I've been thrilled with the results.

HOWEVER...this brings me to a second point.

2. Time dedicated to writing.

Some people have less than an hour to hurry up and get some words on a page (cause that sounds like it will end well) and other people have hours dedicated to writing daily.

People who work full time with kids and a gym membership staring their Pre-Thanksgiving bodies down may not have the same type of writing space that a fulltime writer with kids who go to school.

Everyone has a different situation and different stressors. Does that make you any more/less of a writer? If you would tell someone "no," then hold yourself to your own damn standards.

3. Reading.

Writers hear how reading is one of the biggest tools in their writing toolbox. What did you read? Are you reading your genre? To be honest, I never do while I write, I just read what strikes my fancy.

Last month, it was a bunch of books about writing. From Donald J. Mass to the Emotional Thesaurus and Painless Grammar. That's right...I was reading books about writing.

I just figured before I decided to funnel myself into high expectations, I should read about the sorts of things that would improve my writing. Yeah, the first draft is never pretty, but I am going to ignore that point.

It's still day 5, so I'll bring that index card of advice out for tomorrow's chapter where my outline is...kinda blank. Not sure what happened to chapter six's outline. Oh well, tomorrow me's problems!

Seriously, don't compare yourself to others, just rock it out.








Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Soul Reclaimed is now available!



At long last...

Despite the obstacles, setbacks, and delays, my debut book is finally available to purchase.

I don't know a writer who hasn't experienced at least some turbulence, but here is a brief biography of A Soul Reclaimed.

Three years ago I had a rather long and detailed dream and I wrote it down. Seems easy enough, but this wasn't my first novel. I knew I wasn't done.

Too shy and uncomfortable to look for beta readers, I found myself paying for what I thought was professional editing services. After about three months and a rather unhappy parting of ways, I got something of a line-edit for my first draft.

For those who don't know, the general process is Story Draft>Beta reading/developmental editing>Revisions>Developmental editing> Revisions>Editor/agent> You guessed it... more revisions>Editor/copy edit> Revisions

To the failed editor's credit, I didn't know exactly what I was asking for. I later found a wonderful editor who took the time to explain her services to me. After several rounds of developmental editing and an extensive line-edit, I tried once more for an agent.

(These days I have many beta readers and verified editors. If you want to be a good writer, find these first and avoid all the woes I encountered.)

Short story, everyone said no. I will note that my dream agent who only accepts submissions on Twitter pitches liked my pitch. While she rejected this story, she requested that I send her future material. It sounds like a small win, but for me, it was a big one. I still hope to work with her one day.

I had given up. I would shelve this story as well despite the expense of all the editing I put into it. That's just how it goes, especially for a new author who is still unsure of herself and the writing community.

About a year from the first editor who shall be unnamed, I woke up early and checked my phone to find an email from a small publisher I had submitted to when I was querying for agents. I submitted to many small publishers (Not to be confused with vanity publishing or self- publishing) but they also turned me down.

I opened the email fully expecting the standard rejection letter only to find a contract attached. It took several looks at the email before I figured out that it was not, in fact, a rejection letter. It was one of acceptance.

I called up an agent/lawyer to go over the contract before signing. While it was a nerve-wracking few hours, I fully recommend it. You need to know what you're in for. I was officially signed on as an author for Sands Press.

The editor for my publisher was rather happy with all the edits done to A Soul Reclaimed. We banged out the edits in a few hours, a record according to the president of the publisher. After we had a fan-based vote on the cover, we were good to go.

I was set for April 15th...or so I thought.

My publisher was picked up by a major distribution company. Great news! Except my book would be delayed until the end of May because the distribution company wanted way more copies of my book than the publisher had ready. It ended up working out as my promo tour ended the week before the book's new release date.

As of today, we have arrived. I have a good amount of ratings on Goodreads. A small but growing fanbase, and a network of support that I honestly never expected. I couldn't be happier, and busier than ever with more stories to tell.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Jazzy Book Reviews: A Soul Reclaimed by Shayna Grissom - Book Tour & R...

Jazzy Book Reviews: A Soul Reclaimed by Shayna Grissom - Book Tour & R...: A Soul Reclaimed Shayna Grissom Publication date: April 1st 2019 Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Hell is divided into seven re...

A Dream Within A Dream: A Soul Reclaimed Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway

A Dream Within A Dream: A Soul Reclaimed Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway:   A Soul Reclaimed Author: Shayna Grissom Publication Date: April 1, 2019 Genre: YA Fantasy Description: Hell is divided into sev...

For whom the Bell Tolls - Game of Thrones Post

We're taking a break from the Blog Tour to discuss Game Of Thrones. I am a nerd, tis what nerds do. And please beware, this post is dark and full of spoilers. Everyone has their opinions on Daenerys. Either they say she snapped, that it was bad writing, that they had seen it coming, or that the show failed an otherwise amazing character.

We can compare the books to the show for missing context. We can look at the prophecy of the mad queen, but I have my own theory about what happened in last Sunday's fateful episode. Daenerys was the pride of her Khal. People shouted "Nissa" (mother) and rallied around her. People from all over the region gifted her. She was loved.

More than anything, she won everyone's love. When she came to Westeros it was a different story. She was totally out of her element. People feared her, and I think that, compounded with the massive losses she took to try and win their love, took its toll on her emotional state. On the eve of the battle for King's Landing, she had lost two of her children (the dragons), Missandie, Ser Jorah, many of the Dothraki, Jon's love...for what? For a continent that hates her for the things her father did. There is a moment where King's Landing surrenders.

Daenerys is sitting on her dragon listening to the cries for help. People are pleading for the bell to ring, for the city to surrender. She has lost nearly everything to get to this point and they are terrified of her.

The citizens of King's Landing don't see her as a breaker of chains, they see her as most in Westeros would given the history. They see her as a mad Targaryen coming to burn their city to the ground.

When those bells rang, the mad queen prophecy came true because she decided it was better to fulfill it than spend the rest of her days trying to convince them all otherwise. I surmise that Daenerys isn't mad at all. She has decided to be the villain even if it means everyone hating her. She can't have kids. Her line won't continue. She will be queen and appoint someone else as her successor before she dies and they can be the good king/queen that she wanted so desperately to be.

You can see the look on her face before she pushes Drogon to ride on, she's in pain. She looks like she wants to scream and cry before plunging into the ocean herself. Daenerys was a leader who always found a better way until the battle of King's Landing.

I think when those bells rung she realized there was no winning the hearts of Westeros and that the only way to save them, was to ensure that no one would be left standing to question her rule.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Queekie Girl Reads: A Soul Reclaimed by Shayna Grissom (Excerpt)

Queekie Girl Reads: A Soul Reclaimed by Shayna Grissom (Excerpt): Hell is divided into seven regions. The first region is designated for the purest of souls, the seventh is for the evilest. There was once...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

GoodReads Giveaway!

Enter to win an advance copy of A Soul Reclaimed!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Soul Reclaimed by Shayna Grissom

A Soul Reclaimed

by Shayna Grissom

Giveaway ends April 13, 2019.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Thursday, March 7, 2019

PreOrder: A Soul Reclaimed

On Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Reclaimed-Shayna-Grissom-ebook/dp/B07MTP7H84/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=a+soul+reclaimed&qid=1552005157&s=gateway&sr=8-2

(More outlets to be determined!)


Thank you to all the people who have been along for the ride.

If someone told me five years ago that I'd be a business major who's job was a full-time author that makes her money by selling cakes...

Well, not sure what I'd say.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Policing minorities in YA


In the second time this year, a YA novel has been put on hold at the request of the author due to social media blowback. More or less, people were offended and then a pile-on ensued. The authors decided the best course of action was to pull their debuts rather than "cause harm."

The first novel was Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao, and now Kosoko Jackson's A Place for Wolves.

You can read more about these authors Here and Here.

What is this? Why would the writing community go from pushing the controversial envelope to pre-censuring novels?

There is a lot at work here, but in my opinion, it boils down to policing minorities.

Agents and Editors have been demanding diverse authors. It's no coincidence that a Chinese Immigrant and a Black Queer author were targeted. Zhao's book was a six-figure deal, Jackson was a well-established sensitivity reader (someone who looks for discrimination in books), these were people that many would be jealous of.

Once the idea that PoC had written something that could be considered controversial, the mostly-white industry piled on. It's a form of policing PoC. We want them to be seen, but not heard. They can't bring up anything that makes us uncomfortable. Their controversy should end at their label and not what they bring to the table in terms of literacy.

It's not just in the writing community.
Look at what's happening with Ihlan Omar. She was beloved by the Democrats as their token of diversity until she opened her mouth. Now they are quickly working to silence her for bringing up some very uncomfortable, but important discussions.

Our culture wanted to keep minorities in their place. It's not any single individual or for reasons we can place. It's systematic racism that appears in all forms. From concerned colleague to outright racial bias. It's not intentional, but it's there. We are seeing our society attempting to reclaim the power that a few minorities have been given.

Don't believe me? I just wrote a YA book about Hell. I smashed several forms of religion, magic, slavery, child abuse, and murder into a book for an age range of 14 to 19. Did anyone care? Not really. Though if they did, people would champion free speech and all that jazz. They would argue that most YA readers are adults and don't need protecting.

Many in YA Twitter are doing all they can to support the writer's decisions. Others are suggesting it's a problem in this group specifically, but I disagree. I think it's bigger than that.

I'll be the first to admit I've had some tough conversations about how we perceive race and how we include diversity in our society. I propose that even the most 'woke' white people still deal with racial bias and unintentionally work to keep the system in place.

I don't want to see another story of books being pre-censured. I propose we read potentially controversial literature and have discussions about it. They may not be comfortable discussions, but those are the ones we need to have.




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Blog Tour!

With the release of A Soul Reclaimed fast approaching, I'm gearing up for a blog tour!

I'll be out promoting my book on other people's blogs, on NetGalley, and GoodReads.

For firsthand knowledge on giveaways and the story itself, sign up here:

http://xpressobooktours.com/2019/02/19/tour-sign-up-a-soul-reclaimed-by-shayna-grissom/

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Beta Reading Commandments



There are several processes a book goes through before it hits the shelves. Beta reading is probably one of the most important steps. It's also one that new writers avoid.

Beta reading is when a writer has an early draft of a manuscript critiqued and reviewed. It's generally agreed upon in advance just what kind of feedback the author needs, and is usually done as a manuscript swap with an author with a similar word count.

It's important because it gives the author insight on what needs to be revised. As an author, we think we know what needs to be revised, but just because we can see it in our minds when we read it, doesn't mean the readers will.

As a new author, I struggled with this. I didn't mind criticism. I simply lacked the network. It's not easy recruiting beta readers. They are not always easy to find, dependable, or very good at giving feedback.

Here are some tips that I found helpful:

For brand new writers, I would recommend sites like scribophile. It's simple enough. You post work after gaining enough karma (critiquing other's work) and then people critique yours. It's a great way to learn many story-writing basics and can start that network of writers.

After you learn to come to terms with the fact that you were not born with the writing abilities of Ernest Hemmingway, you can move on. Much of what a writer does involves destroying what tiny ego we have, only to build it back up again. Get used to it.

Twitter's writing community is a place where a writer can befriend thousands of other writers. For the most part, the #AmWriting community is a good one. If you still have an ego left over from Scribophile, check it at the door. There are many types of writers and several ways to publish. One is not better than the other, just different. So don't snub anyone willing to Beta-Read your story!

And finally, here are my Commandments for Beta Reading the work of others.
(Not everyone follows these rules, but I personally do)

1. Thou shall not be a dick

It's pretty self-explanatory. I'll never say a story is stupid, that you're a crap writer, or any other nightmare inducing feedback. If you encounter someone who does, cease and desist any contact with them.
2. Thou shall not Success Check

This is one that many do without realizing it. It's the "oh, this is the first draft," or "This is your first story, isn't it?"
I get it all the time, but I don't take it personally and neither should you. It's an attempt to establish dominance between the critique partners.

In the event that I return with negative feedback, that author can dismiss it as a "new writer" who didn't know what they were doing. It's just what writers do when they feel insecure about handing something they love to a stranger. That does not mean you should do it.

It often times backfires and feels like a foot in the mouth.

3. Thou shall commit

If you said you were going to do it. You need to do it. A cyclone can run through my house, but you should still finish it.

4. Thou shall be encouraging

I invest in the things I beta read. I want to see them succeed and I will never, ever be anything other than encouraging. I want to see that story I beta read on the shelf, take a picture of it, and know that I helped get that author there.

This ties into the commitment thing. From start to finish, I want to know how that project goes. When I beta read, usually the questions I ask is "what are you trying to do with this piece?" It helps me determine what kind of critiques I give. I often refer my beta read projects to editors, books on writing, and websites to help them on to the next steps of their journey.

5. Thou shall say "Thank you."

Often times, we hear feedback we don't like. There have been many times where I've read feedback, stormed around the house arguing the feedback before coming to terms with the fact that they were right.

This isn't always the case. A downfall of Scribophile is that people will read a chapter in the middle of a project and say a character is flat. It's still useful to know that in that specific chapter, the character was flat, but as a whole, the critique isn't as useful as the person who's read the entire thing.

Often times they are just critiquing for the sake of karma and they lack commitment or interest in your project. It happens. I've been there. The one thing I won't do, and neither should you... argue about it.

Just say "Thank you" and move on.

I tell my beta projects that my ideas, advice, and opinion is my own. They don't have to take it, they don't need to use it. Naturally, if you find all your beta partners come back with the same conclusion, you should probably listen, but again, that's up to you.

If you can't find a single thing useful from a critique, then you're not doing it right.

There it is, my 5 commandments on Beta Reading.
I am currently open for Betas. I love them and would be happy to read your story and give feedback.
You can find me on Twitter @ShaynaGrissom
On Facebook www.facebook.com/ShaynaMightBeAnAuthor/
And of course, you can message me or email me.
Sgrissom.com

Want me to Beta Read for you?
I accept Manuscript swaps (totally free)
https://www.fiverr.com/shaynagrissom/be-your-beta-reader for the less free option

Are you a marginalized writer? Let me know, I'll give you a second pass through your manuscript for free.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pre-Order (eBook) time!



The eBook version of my novel, A Soul Reclaimed is available on Rakuten Kobo for Pre-Order here!

The official release is April 15th.

I also want to take the time to thank everybody who is supporting me as an author and this project. I have so many stories I want to share with the world, but the publishing industry is a slow one!