Friday, March 29, 2013

Being an Author is Hard Work!

I blog generally on Fridays. For some reason this is the time that crops up when I have a few minutes (hopefully more) to babble about all things that deserve bloggy goodness.

This is what I realized today. Being an author is hard work. I mean, I knew this, but I decided something as I realized this concretely. Let me go back a moment here and have you follow my train of thought. (It's more like a maze, so make sure you have your bread crumbs or string.) (Yes, my brain does look like an acorn. ;) )

My description that I have been plastering all over the place is this: Daughter, Sister, Mother, Partner, Dreamer, Reader, Crocheter, Writer... Author is a title I will earn when I am published. 

It's on my Twitter, Blogger, Google, Pinterest, and whatever other social thing I happen to be on.  As I was writing my Celebrate the Small Things post, I said that I was grateful for my creative mind. That got me to know what? Authoring is hard work. I am not just a writer. I am an Author. Not that there is anything wrong with being a writer. I am a writer as well, but Author implies a little bit more.... My profile will soon be updated, not because I am published, but because I am an Author.
Author implies creator (not in the religious sense) in the imaginative sense. As an author, I am creating characters, situations, and even worlds for my readers to escape into and enjoy.  I love it, and it's what I am meant to do. My dream is that those worlds and characters will become as dear to you as they are to me. It's damn hard work being in my head most of the time.

I have given myself the big DUH slap to the forehead.
I have been discrediting myself for all this time and it's time I embrace my role as an AUTHOR. Woo Hoo! *doing the author dance*

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Quick Thank You!

I was surprised to see my blog followers jump up, so I wanted to say: Hey! Thanks for the follow, loyal blog fans! I'd send you all private messages, but that would require me to follow my own blog, which I thought was weird.
Also, thanks to any followers who are following me by email. I apparently can't keep track of  you, so, if I have any invisible followers, awesome! And in the manner of Oscar award thank yous that go on and on, I would also like to thank my Twitter and Pinterest followers as well.
I feel so loved. :D

Big Blog Hugs to All! Thanks again!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cheating Death Blog Tour and Giveaway

Blog Tour Host

Jen Naumann YA author of gems Shymers, The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life, and What I've Done, launches her new book Cheating Death, and I have the sincere pleasure of being a stop on her awesome giveaway and blog tour! 

Book description: 
Lysandra Brooks remembers everything about the day she almost drowned alongside her grandma, especially the set of mysterious eyes she saw at the bottom of the lake. Ever since then, she's been seeing strange things when she is near water—things that aren't really there. Because of it, Lysandra has the tendency to avoid anything that isn't on dry land. On her last day of high school, however, the biggest party of the year is set to take place at a fellow senior's lakeside mansion. Despite her fears, Lysandra decides to prove to her friends and herself that she can handle it.

But after a horrific night of drinking and drama that leaves Lysandra feeling lonely and confused, she nearly drowns for a second time, only to be saved by the new guy in town. From that moment on, Lysandra's world is turned upside down with the discovery of mind blowing secrets, including a revelation that something sinister is after her soul.

Book Trailer 
I apologize for Blogger quirks. It wouldn't allow me to embed the video, so please click the link for Jen's awesome book trailer! 

I have the honor of interviewing Jen!
What is with you and dead things, anyway? How did the dead and undead become your inspiration? 
Ha, no one has ever asked me that in those exact words. I'm not even sure I can give you an answer. I started reading Stephen King and watching horror movies at a young age. I was immediately hooked on anything scary. I was into zombies well before The Walking Dead came out—they're my favorite supernatural creatures.Part of the reason I'm so drawn to paranormal in general is that you have really use your imagination since those things don't exist in reality. To me it's all fun and exciting because it's all pretend. If anything creepy would happen to me in real life, however, I'd probably pee my pants.
Have you ever had any near death experiences? If not, have you known anyone who could personally describe them?
The premise of Cheating Death actually came from an incident when I was maybe 4 or 5 and fell backwards off a dock with my mom. I still remember vividly thinking that I was going to die. But we were in maybe five feet of water and she was right next to me. I just wasn't a very good swimmer yet. Then last year in St. Maarten I was pulled under by some powerful waves and for the first time as an adult thought I was seriously going to drown when I couldn't get back on my feet. There was also a time when I was in elementary that my dad caught me swearing. These were the days when spanking was okay—although I could probably count on one hand how many times it was actually done in our house—and I locked myself in a closet.
How do you research your paranormal novels, if you do? 
I normally don't do any research. Anyone who has read my zombie book knows I like to make up my own rules when it comes to paranormal, although I like to keep my theories reasonable—you won't find sparkling vampires in my stories.   
Your novels deeply address the issues of growing up as a teenager. Some are things teenagers think about, but won't tell parents. Are you drawing on life experiences? 
I would like to think that I was a fairly normal teen. My parents are the best and I probably could've told them anything. Were there some things I chose to keep to myself? Of course. But some of my characters have pretty messed up relationships with their parents and my childhood was absolutely nothing like that. I still made mistakes and bad decision like any other teen (like throwing a party in our house my senior year and my mom realizing ten seconds after returning home that I did so because the curtains had been moved).
How do you hope Cheating Death will inspire or help Young/New Adults?
Cheating Death is the darkest book I've written to date and is better suited for the "new adult" crowd because of it. I bring up some real-life issues that high school/college kids face and hope they maybe stop and think about these consequences that could very well happen to anyone. I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to teach a lesson, but I was into drinking my senior year and hadn't heard of things like this happening, so I thought I was invincible. But bad things can happen when you're drinking. And they do.

I am not personally "into" reading books about zombies, but Cheating Death sounds a little more up my alley. Was there a specific inspiration for Cheating Death? 
Like I said earlier, this story came about with the memories of almost drowning as a child. Otherwise, I can't say that anything specifically shaped the story. When I write I have no idea where I'm going or what will happen to my characters. Needless to say, the first draft can often be a total nightmare.

Would you like to tell us anything I might have missed?
Being an indie author can be a lot of work. I really appreciate those who take a chance on me and buy my books. I also appreciate those who take time to write a review on Goodreads or Amazon. I'm not sure everyone understands just how important it is to leave feedback for your favorite writers. And I really appreciate bloggers like you, Shanah, who support my work and help spread the word. You rock!
Thanks so much for being my first author interview and sharing your new release on my blog, Jen!

Author bio:
Jen grew up during a magical time in which Ghostbusters, Star Wars, E.T. and The Goonies were the biggest blockbusters. Her love of sci-fi exploded over time, eventually growing into a career of writing YA fiction with a paranormal flair. When not sitting at her Mac, she can be found at concerts and movies, hanging with friends, chilling at her lake home, taking pictures, working on graphic design projects, traveling, or at home with her husband in southern Minnesota and trying to keep up with their four active children.
Blog Tour Host
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things

Good Afternoon (at least in Central Standard Time Zone) and Happy Easter, Squirrely Fans! Here's my post for March 29th, 2013...ignore the blogger post date. ;)

I missed a week of Celebrate the Small Things blog hop hosted by Viklit. Things get busy, and I am a little surprised I am making it this week.
I am also cheating by updating my old Celebrate List. Hope that's ok, because I need to do a short cut since my 3yo is clambering to go outside, and I have several things I need to get done.

1) I am grateful for being busy! Spring is finally starting to show its shy face and that means lots of new transitions.

2) I am grateful for melting snow. It helps keep my chickens watered when I can't get outside right away to do chores.

3) I am grateful for farm fresh chicken eggs. Happy Easter!

4) My creative brain. Even though it totally torments me a lot of the time, sometimes we work together very well and things get done.

5) Gluten Free Corn Bread Muffins. We're not talking Jiffy Mix here, people. We're talking the real deal, no wheat flour added corn bread. The only way to roll!

Here's the Product Link

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

This is Me

Since it seems to be the right time to reveal a few secrets, I decided to do a post that reveals the real me. Ok, not *all* of the real me, but I am sure some of you are wondering who is behind that pretty girl writing by the tree. I bet a number of you are wondering what the heck does risurocket mean!?

The Real Risurocket
I only wish I looked like the girl by the tree. There was a time that I kind of did. It does represent the inner me. I look like this ->, if I had long hair and was 10 years younger. My hair is short now, but I am attempting to reach that length again. Sorry, I don't have a more recent pic. Anything I would take on my phone would suck, so not going to oblige, right now.

My real name is Shanah, pronounced SHAY-nah, and I have lived a long time correcting people on *that*, let me tell you. Otherwise, all my interesting secrets are too many to post here, so you can go on over to the link in the picture caption and check out my bio in goodreads. My favorite books tell a lot about me too.

So, that's that. Now, the quick story about risurocket. My username online was squirl in college. I have had a thing for squirrels forever, but especially since they became my friends in Hyde Park, London. Anyway, it came to pass that I needed to change my username. I was studying Japanese folklore at the time, and decided to go for "squirrel" in Japanese which is risu, according to my Websters Japanese/English Dictionary. I added rocket because hubby had just purchased the video game Chu Chu Rocket (mouse rocket in Japanese). I thought the combination was cute. I am called either risu or rocket by those who know me online for a long time. The rest is history.

Have you ever had a weird username? What's the story behind your username? We love comments here! You can even ask me more about me, if you want.
Time to launch my writing into orbit! TTFN, squirrely fans!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Next Best Thing Blog Hop

I've been tagged! One of my good friends, J. Elizabeth Hill, author of Bound, tagged me into The Next Best Thing Blog Hop, and I am honored. It will serve as motivation to get my work in progress novel back into a flow.

Right now, my next best thing is my first best thing. Aside from my NaNoWriMo experience last November, I've struggled to get my solo work off the ground. 

First, the important acknowledgement section. Learn more about J.Elizabeth Hill! Thank you for tagging me!
Here's J's Next Best Novella Thing Post. I can't wait to read the story she's written! Here's some more about J. Elizabeth Hill. Follow her on Twitter and Goodreads and get a copy of Bound at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Nook and in print. It's a beautiful book. I highly recommend a print copy. It's also available on iBookstore.

Now, on to what you want to know about me, Ms. Risurocket, or at least about my Work in Progress. *gulp* (You can see my bio and find out my secrets on Goodreads or my NaNoWriMo page.)

1. What is the working title of your next book?
Ugh, I don't like sharing this. I am very superstitious with my works in progress. The working title is Cage of the Muse.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
The idea partially came from my struggle to let go of my co-writer I had been writing with for 10 years. We have nothing published together, but I had to let go of all our co-written stuff in order to focus on solo work. It made me wonder what it would be like to write a story about someone who lost his or her muse, and what they would do about it. Other influences are my university courses in Egyptology and my undying interest in all kinds of folklore and mythology.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
Um, sort of Urban Fantasty with a heavy dash of Adventure and Romantic Suspense. I like to call it the Indiana Jones Genre.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Rachel Weisz and a really hot male model named Alejandro Corzo Su├írez are cast for my main characters.  Though my characters are inspired by many and are really a mixed breed.
My full WIP main character inspiration is available on my Pinterest board.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Only one sentence? Oh, "When an artist is abandoned by his muse, all he wants is revenge."

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I haven't decided, yet. If I am lucky enough to discover an agency who wants to represent my books, I will be ecstatic. However, self publishing has definite merits.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I am still very much in the research/planning mode right now. My NaNoWriMo novel took 2 and a half weeks to write, but about 4 months to research and plan. (My NaNoWriMo project is not my "Next Best Thing". It's resting.)

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Honestly, I don't know. I have a love for "archaeological modern gothic romantic suspense" novels (Say that genre combo five times fast. ;) ). Susanna Kearsley is my idol. Elizabeth Peters is my other idol. They are both on equal levels of "idolness". I guess I would compare my WIP to Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody books, most. I want that level of adventure, but Susanna Kearsley's books have contributed a boatload of inspiration. I strive to follow in both my idols' footsteps.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My co-writer, really. It's because of him I am writing this book. I will always consider him to be my co-writer and my muse, even if we aren't currently writing together.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
My book will work itself into a trilogy that will be rich in characters. I hope to present a world that will inspire, encourage and keep readers reading. I employ Greek Mythology, Egyptology, Archaeology, revenge, secret societies, and a surprising corporation of muses. It's got arson, kidnapping, "fallen" gods and goddesses, and twists that will challenge the riddle of the Sphinx.

And now for my nominee: Jeffrey Kupperman. Jeffrey is the author of urban and historical fantasy and publisher of the Journal of Western Mystery Tradition His journal is serving as an invaluable research resource for my WIP.

Bio: Jeffrey hails from Shorewood, Wisconsin and was raised in the small city of Oconomowoc. Alas, you have to be from Wisconsin in order to be able to pronounce that. After over a decade of living in the Chicago area he has finally returned to Wisconsin and currently lives on the Mississippi river. A former religious studies and cultural anthropology professor, Jeffrey now spends most of his time writing, painting and raising his two daughters. Not necessarily in that order. Website   Books  Short Stories

Friday, March 8, 2013

MacGuffin Muffins

Sometimes there is nothing tastier than a muffin.
In the case of writing stories, there's nothing tastier than a MacGuffin! Most stories and plots are much more exciting and tantalizing to readers if they contain that elusive element, referred to in film and literature as The MacGuffin (aka McGuffin).

Many writers have probably heard of the valuable MacGuffin. It's rare for a writer not to know one. However, there may be some who have captured the special element, but have never run across the fun terminology. Alfred Hitchcock made the term popular in the 1930s, but insisted that he did not coin the term. I particularly like Alfred Hitchcock's explanation of a MacGuffin. (<- Click on link, it's got Scots in it and lions. ;))
Always had his hands on the best MacGuffins, but felt they should be unimportant.

A MacGuffin (from Wikipedia) is a plot device. It takes the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist (and sometimes the antagonist) is willing to sacrifice almost anything to pursue, protect, control and/or acquire. There is often no narrative explanation as to why the all important "thing" is so important.

The specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, or left open to interpretation. It can even be completely unimportant to the overall plot.

Feels MacGuffins should be important to the plot.
Authors and filmmakers have differing opinions on how important the MacGuffin should be to the plot of a story.  

All agree, however, that it is *the* device employed to capture and keep the reader/observers' attentions.

An example would be the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a classic example of a MacGuffin that foils the protagonist in the end is The Maltese Falcon. Then there's "Rosebud".

I found Wikipedia an invaluable resource for MacGuffin explanations and origins. Here are some more resources to get your MacGuffin explanations and examples:

TV Tropes

The Free Dictionary

Top Ten Movie MacGuffins

I am totally craving muffins now. I'll take chocolate, please! I hope you enjoy exploring MacGuffins and please share your ideas for some good story MacGuffins in the comments!  You never know what might show up in my Works in Progress.
Vegan Magic Chocolate Muffins

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I am so honored to be nominated for this award, especially since I haven't been feeling very inspirational or inspired lately. My gratitude is deeply extended to Fiona Chapman for nominating me for this award. Fiona has served as inspiration and encouragement throughout my writing process and I am very happy to have met her on Twitter. I hope she and I will continue to be inspiring for each other and others aspiring to launch their writing careers.

A few simple rules apply to this award as follows:

 The Very Inspiring Blogger Award:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • State 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate other bloggers (the number seems to vary) for this award and link to them.

Here are "Seven Random Things" about Me:
1)  I've been writing since I was little, but seriously writing every day since 2003. Only problem is that my writing was with co-writers, and one in particular. My most awesome co-writer decided that his muse needed a rest, and I've now launched out on my own again.

2) I grew up in the country, an only child, and my best friend was my pony.

3) My favorite reading genres are romantic suspense and mystery, however I was recently introduced (by fate, it seems) to Paulo Coelho's  work, and am enamored. My favorite writing genre is romantic suspense/adventure, sometimes with a taste of Urban Fantasy.

4) I *love* animals. I am the keeper of a cat, a hedgehog, a field mouse, 5 chickens and a parakeet. I would love to have more animals.

5) I am deathly allergic to dogs. Not kidding. Dogs to me are like peanuts to people with peanut allergies. I am also allergic to donkeys, horses and cats.

6) I majored in Dance for a year in college before waffling between an English degree and a Biology degree. Biology and English continued to fight. English won with an emphasis on British Lit. My minor is in Creative Writing and Psychology.

7) I lived in London for 3 months on less than 12 USD a week. I am living proof that it is possible to live in London on the cheap.

And here are some more bloggers who have been a great inspiration to me, and continue to encourage me:
Jen Naumann
One of my first Tweeps, and I am very happy to have met her.

Shana Galen
All of the authors on this blog are amazing! Since Shana and I share a first name, I had to follow her on Twitter, and proceeded to discover a new favorite author and person.

J. Elizabeth Hill
An author whose self published book grabbed me by my shirt and held on for dear life. I really like her as a person too. 

Kristen Jett
A very inspirational girl and a muse in her own right. She's a lovely person too!

Kristen Evey
Another inspirational person and one I would not like to lose for a friend.

Karen Woodward
Karen is an amazing blogger with some of the best writing advice I have ever run across. She's not to be missed.