Monday, April 20, 2020

Guest on Defending the Pen

Hi, guys! Yolanda interviewed me over at Defending the Pen! Want to know what scene was hardest for me to write? How about what makes me run screaming?

And don't forget her recent release: Murder, Just Because

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Writing Exercises for the Coronapocalypse

Hi, guys! I hope everyone is at least finding a "new normal" right now and hanging in there as much as possible. My husband has been playing with his 3D printer to make masks, and my sister-in-law made me a fabric one, so I have a variety to wear to work and the store.

I was able to do a Zoom call with my mom and three of my four siblings, which was nice. We're not big phone talkers, any of us, and Zoom is basically a phone call with pictures, but it's the best we can do right now, so we'll take it.

I've decided to do some simple prompts on my author Facebook page for people struggling with their creativity during this time. Starting tomorrow, there will be a basic prompt, such as describing a memory or a person you know, something that will hopefully get people to write a bit without making them feel bad about having trouble creating. If you'd like to take part, you can click HERE and "like" the page to get the daily prompts. You can also search for Shannon Lawrence - The Warrior Muse if clicking the above link doesn't work.

Note that I don't go to bed until about 5 or 6 AM, so I will be checking in on the page later in the day. I don't want anyone to think I'm ignoring them! I'm just sleeping. Hopefully. I will schedule the prompts to post first thing in the morning, though. Likely 7 AM MT since that's when I do my blog posts.

Speaking of sleep, raise your hand if you're having crazy, intense dreams. I have been. They're not nightmares, just vivid dreams, and since I wake frequently I also remember a lot of my dreams. Some of them are so seemingly normal that I almost struggle to tell the difference between things that didn't happen and things that did. Only briefly, of course, in that way people (women?) have of waking up mad at their spouse because they had an intense dream that felt so real that it hurt in reality upon waking.

We also have three new events arranged for Pikes Peak Writers. They're all free, so I'm going to list them here. If you want to see all of them, you can click HERE. The new ones aren't added on there yet, but I'm going to list them here, and if you're friends with me on Facebook and want me to send you an event invite, let me know. There are two events on there marked Non-PPW Events. Those are not run by us and are not virtual (and not free), but the others are!

Again, these are completely free. We don't make any money off these. This is purely a way to give back to the writing community and help people hang in there. All of the below speakers are also doing this for free, no honorarium, for the same reasons. If any of you are interested in doing a workshop in May, either on a week night or a Saturday afternoon, let me know, and we can see if we can make it work.

How to Become a Better Writer in Quarantine—Even If You Don’t Feel Like Writing
April 25, 2-4 PM MST, via Zoom *links will be up online in the next week
It sounds like a writer’s dream: hours of time at home, no expectations to go anywhere or do anything outside your house, so you can really dedicate yourself to your writing.

But during this rough time, many find their creative energy has short-circuited: With everyone stuck at home maybe your creative space and time has been crowded out. Maybe worry, uncertainty, and even fear make it hard to concentrate on your craft—the very sensitivity that makes artists artists might be working against your ability to create your art in such unsettled times.

But even if all you’re able to manage right now is curling up on the sofa with a book or the remote control, #stayhome can actually be the perfect time to train your editor brain. Analyzing other people’s stories is often the best way to learn to objectively assess your own, and using examples from popular TV shows, movies, and books, Tiffany will teach you how to objectively analyze and dissect the art you're taking in, the way professional editors do with manuscripts, to see how it accomplishes (or doesn't) major storytelling techniques. Using specific suggestions and questions, this hour-long presentation will help you gain the often-elusive skill of self-editing and effective revision to help you get your story onto the page with all the depth and richness and impact it has in your head.

Speaker BIO: Tiffany Yates Martin started in the publishing industry more than twenty-five years ago as a copy editor for the Big Six. As a developmental editor for the last decade, she works directly with authors as well as through major publishing houses, on titles by New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors. She holds a BA in English Literature from Georgia State University and is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

Q&A with an FBI Profiler
May 2, 2-4 PM MST, via Zoom *links will go up this week

Pete Klismet, retired FBI profiler, will discuss his background and how he got involved in the FBI, then open up for questions. Want to know how profiling works? Have burning questions about serial killers? Ask away! He'll answer your questions and tell some entertaining tales.

Speaker BIO: Peter M. (Pete) Klismet, Jr. is a U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran and worked for the Ventura Police Department before entering the FBI in 1979. He was trained to be a Firearms Instructor, Hostage Negotiator, and was in the first cadre of Special Agents chosen to be trained in “Psychological Profiling.” Pete received extensive training in profiling over the years, and worked on numerous cases. He was named the 1999 International Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for solving a large multi-national fraud case. Following his retirement in 1999, Pete accepted a position as Department Chair and Associate Professor of the Criminal Justice Department at Pikes Peak Community College. Now retired from that, he continues to do training and consulting work for law enforcement and private companies and law firms. He has authored four award-winning books.

Story Breaking Monday
May 4, 7-9 PM MST

Wanna kick the tires of your story with a storytelling expert? Game to do it LIVE in front of a gaggle of writers? Ready to embrace this new world of Digital Creative Community?

Join Trai Cartwright for an evening of story development – we promise everyone will learn lots about story build and get inspired, and 2 (or 3!) lucky writers will be chosen through lottery to work through—and fix—their stories. Bring your screenplays, books, TV pilots, or web series.

Everyone is welcome to listen—maybe even give notes!
Stories will be chosen by lottery that night.

FREE -- but you must register:

BIO: TRAI CARTWRIGHT, MFA, is a 25-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing and business development specialist. She teaches, produces, and writes screenplays and novels. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film producer, and story consultant and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema. She was the Assistant Director of Leonardo DiCaprio’s online endeavors and the Manager for 20th Century Fox’s Mobile Studios. Trai currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for Western State Colorado University, Denver University and CU Denver, conferences and cons, and one-on-one as a development and story editor. She is the screenwriter of Secret Ellington, and producer of docu-series Hidden Tigers, and short film Sundown Road.

How are you doing? Are you coping okay? What coping mechanisms have you found that help you? Have you been able to write? Having vivid dreams? Will I see you on my Facebook page or at any of the events?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Query Monsters & Yolanda Renee's Blog Tour

I was going to post about something else this week, but a timely conversation with a friend gave me a different topic. It turns out literary agents are being slammed right now with queries. People are deciding that having some time off work means they should write that novel they've always dreamed of. But these are the people who haven't been attending writing workshops and conferences, reading craft books, or even visiting the blogs of writers, which means they don't realize they're supposed to finish the book before they query it (for fiction).

An agent I know has gotten over 700 queries in the last week. Most of them just ideas for a novel that isn't written.



A book shouldn't be queried until it's completed, and by completed I mean written AND edited. And preferably beta read or critiqued in some way. Sure, use this time to get those first novels written, but don't start chasing after agents until it's done and in great shape. You often can't query the same agent later for the same novel, even if it's completed then. These folks are shooting themselves in the foot.

At the same time, if your book is finished, I'm thinking it's a good time to sit on your fingers and prepare those query lists instead of sending them just yet. Think of this like December and January following NaNoWriMo. Agents being flooded means they're digging through endless queries. What happens if the right agent misses your book, which might have otherwise been perfectly suited to them?

Food for thought, anyway.

A final note: publishers are currently looking for humorous, romantic, or inspiring books. If you write in those realms, now's a good time to get those submissions out (assuming the books are ready). It's been projected that this trend will continue for the next two years due to the hard times.

I hope people will still read horror!

Guess what? It's time to welcome Yolanda on her book tour for "Murder, Just Because!"

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Yolanda Renee’s MURDER, JUST BECAUSE Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

The author is offering an awesome tour-wide international giveaway. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

by Yolanda  RenĂ©e
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: Yolanda Renee
◊ Series: Detective Quaid Mysteries
◊ Paperback: 291 pages
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ ISBN-10: 0985820632
◊ ISBN-13: 978-0985820633
◊ Contains explicit sex & graphic violence

"While this book does contain explicit sexual language and graphic violence, it could easily be taken from the daily headlines. The content is plausible and realistic as we look at the world around us. The events in the book are not overly done but give a pragmatic look at the terrifying actions killers can and sometimes do take."

It was a matter of beginner’s luck, but rookie detective Steven Quaid’s career and reputation as an elite investigator skyrocketed when he captured one of the most sadistic serial killers in Alaskan history: Stowy Jenkins, AKA the Snowman. But that was ten years ago.

And now…Jenkins is back. Escaped from prison and on the move, his bloodlust is stronger than ever, and his methods of torture are even more horrifying than before. As his bloody rampage continues and the number of mutilated bodies mounts, terrified Alaskans increasingly doubt Quaid’s ability to catch the killer again. The detective’s reputation is on the line, and he’s going to need a lot more than luck, because this time, Jenkins is driven by more than the thrill of a random kill.

This time, it’s more personal. He’s out for revenge…and his ultimate target is Quaid. In a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, Jenkins starts picking off the people in Quaid’s life…slowly, gradually tightening his circle of corpses and drawing ever closer to the most important person in Quaid’s life...his wife. Can Quaid do the impossible again? Can he outmaneuver the killer, or has the detective's luck finally run out?

Author Yolanda Renee
For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her in her own words.

At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I’ve traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influences my writing.
Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

For more on Yolanda and her writing, you can connect with her here:
Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest    


This tour-wide giveaway is for a complete set of the Detective Quaid Mystery series books for one winner, paperback copies of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for five winners, a Kindle copy of MURDER, JUST BECAUSE for 10 winners, and a $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Yolanda on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. Do you enjoy watching a character grow from one story to the next?

Congratulations to Yolanda!!

It's been awhile since I talked about what I've read and watched lately, so I'm sure I've forgotten half the things I've [mindlessly] watched throughout the recent upheaval, but here are some of the notables.


I'd seen the movie, of course, but never read the book. Happily, I ended up with a copy including the original ending (the British version ending--the American version removed the final chapter, so it wasn't in Kubrick's film, either.)

The fascinating thing about this book is that Burgess created an entire slang language (which I've since learned was based on Russian, pretty directly actually). It's hard to adjust to, but by the end it's rolling through your head in an oddly familiar way. The movie actually came across as more violent, though in a stylized way. There's a separation between the reader and the incidents being perpetrated. It's an interesting study on treating criminals, much in the same way as Strangeland. What if a criminal is trained out of their bad behavior, only to have society treat them in such a way as to bring it back out again?

This is a gorgeous book, lush and heartfelt. About a girl deemed "swamp trash" by the townspeople who is left to fend for herself when everyone in her life eventually abandons her. What will someone put up with from a person who finally stays? It was engrossing and heartbreaking, but I felt like the last chapter was unnecessary. Unfortunately, you can't skip it, as you get an answer to a big question in that final chapter. Given, it's beautiful, just like the rest of the book, but it tied things up a little too neatly for me. I still highly recommend the book.


This Australian horror film is intense. A teen girl kidnaps the boy who turned her down for prom, and she and her father torture him. Turns out this isn't the first time she's gotten what she wanted in this sadistic fashion. Gore and torture, so don't watch it if you're not a fan. 

Rich "SJWs" hunt "deplorables." The main star is one of the main women from Glow, and she's a fantastic actress with quite a range. I was afraid this one would be too irritably political, but it actually equally mocked the political extremists. My brother and I are politically opposed, and we both enjoyed it. Funny as hell, and quite twisted.

This one's got great special effects and plenty of suspense. An abused wife escapes her husband only to get notice that he's dead and has left everything to her. But is he really dead? If so, who's tormenting her? A touch of horror, a touch of science fiction. And a well acted film.


Sounds inappropriate, but it's hysterical. I thought I'd already posted about this one, but I can't find it when I scan my previous posts. This is told from either the couple's POV or the ER doctor's. Some of the situations people get themselves into are hilarious and shocking. (Hulu)

This one's about a catering company and the situations they find themselves in (or get themselves into). I swear, half the cast at any given time was in Veronica Mars. A funny show. (Hulu)

Submission stats

Since I didn't do these last week like I usually do, here are my March submission stats:

2 rejections
0 acceptances
1 notification that a publication that had one of my pieces short listed was closing
7 pieces currently on submission

Accepting Submissions

Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these (unless otherwise stated), merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Madness Heart Press is seeking giant monster stories for Devouring Earth: Kaiju and Giant Monster Inspired Horror Anthology. Stories over 1500 words preferred. Pays $5. Deadline April 30 or once filled.

Flash Bang Mysteries is seeking mystery/crime flash stories. 500-700 words. Pays $50. Deadline April 30.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is seeking Pole to Pole Publishing is seeking stories for Twenty Thousand Leagues Remembered. Stories must pay tribute to Jules Verne's story in some way. 3000-5000 words. Pays $.02/word. Deadline April 30.

87 Bedford is seeking historic fantasy short stories. 1000-5000 words. Pays $.08/word. Deadline April 30.

The Sunlight Press is seeking essays, fiction, poetry, reviews, photography, and more. Paying market, but pay not specified. Word count varies by type.

Did you enter to win any of Yolanda's awesome prizes? Have you pre-ordered your copy? Are you writing now? Submitting? What's your opinion on querying agents right now? Have anything humorous or romantic you can query? Any of these publishing links of interest? Anything to share? How are you?

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG - It's Okay to Not be Okay & Jemi Fraser's Dancing With Dementia

It's time for the April Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG exists so writers can seek support and lend support. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and sign up. Then post about your insecurities and hop around to see what others have to say.

The co-hosts this month are Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

The optional question this month is "How are things in your world?"

On that note, it's been a strange month, full of unknowns. Some people thrive in terms of creativity during hard times. Others close up. I tend to have trouble letting my creativity flow during times of struggle or insecurity. Don't put pressure on yourself if it's not coming to you naturally. maybe this is the time to experience the arts more than create them. Get some extra reading time in, watch a movie, take a virtual tour of an art gallery or museum, listen to music, dance, do a puzzle, color.

My co-director and I scurried to put our monthly Pikes Peak Writers events online after having to cancel the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and delay a half-day event. Happily, after playing around with Zoom, we found we could do everything we needed to online. And people from everywhere can join in! I'd love to "see" some of you join in to the events. They are all free except one, which is the half-day event. Click HERE to view our free programming and get more information. If you have questions about format, just let me know in the comments. I'm excited that, albeit hopefully briefly, I can share some of our free education events with friends outside the area for once.

***If you're not interested in joining any of these, skip down to the next set of three stars. This is just more info on the events.***

The Write Brain is workshop style, and will be on writing comedy in April. Rebecca Rowley's presenting it, and it's called Zen and the Art of Parody. Totally free workshop, and she's a lot of fun. The May one will be an attorney talking about Legal Issues in Worldbuilding, BUT we're not positive yet if that one will be online.

Writer's Night is just when we all get together to ask and answer writing questions. You can tune in without asking a question. It's completely up to you. Another free one. Mytchel Chandler hosts this.

We're not doing Open Critique in April, but might in May. (This one will be free).

Write Drunk Edit Sober will also be online. Deb Courtney teaches mini lessons then has people write to prompts. This one's the soonest (April 8). It's via Delve (Adobe), but May's will likely be via Zoom. Also free.

So if you're interested in any of those, you can click on the links and get dates/times. They're all in the evening. We figured by taking it online, people would have something to do, and get some semblance of social time. And it gives you an idea of what I do for my volunteer job! The hardest part was making sure we could do our half-day event online since there are three speakers and it's a paid event. Knowing if we'd be able to do that or if we'd be canceling was incredibly stressful, because our quarterly half-day events are how we pay to put on all four free monthly events, so we can keep doing them. Once we got that figured out, it got slightly less stressful, so yay! (If you're interested in the paid half-day, it's on writing synopses, query letters, and loglines, and it's online and available to anyone interested, as well.) The funny thing is, had we not ended up canceling the half-day, I wouldn't have been able to attend my own event! It was originally scheduled on Pi Day, and I had to work the day job that day. Now it's April 11, so problem solved. The speakers are all good at what they do, but they're also friends, so I was disappointed I'd have to miss seeing them.

***Event info end***

About the day job, we only ended up having one more business day after Pi Day before everything went completely crazy, and we had to either close or adapt to doing all takeout/curbside. We made the adjustment, though, and didn't miss any days of being open. Just a reminder to anyone getting takeout from open restaurants in your area: the servers are still packaging everything up, and they're still making the usual tipped hourly wage. Not only that, but they're having to risk exposure to COVID-19 and the flu with every customer coming in. Please bear that in mind. I've found that about half the people getting takeout or curbside are still not tipping (for the record, I've always tipped some when doing takeout, but now I'm tipping out 20% for them being on the front lines).

As the payroll person, I've had to make some changes to how I do payroll, so it's definitely interesting times. Plus, my kids are home from school, and my husband is now off work every other week, so everything that is my normal has disappeared. It's no wonder I haven't written in two weeks. I was punishing myself for it mentally at first, but then I reminded myself that nothing is normal right now, and it's okay to not be okay. On top of that, I launched a book a couple days before the apocalypse, which has, of course, hurt sales. And I feel uncomfortable promoting it, so I've stopped for now. I'm hoping to do a book launch with friends who also had the misfortune of putting a book out right when things went haywire, but we have no idea when we can do that, so not being able to plan that and have it done adds to the stress. Plus, all my scheduled appearances (except podcasts) have been cancelled or delayed. I briefly had a job opportunity that would have involved me getting paid for the same type of job I currently do as a volunteer, but with the company having to shut down events, not only are the job positions all closed now, but those already working for them are waiting to see if they get to keep their jobs. AND my trip out to my grandma's memorial, who died just before all this, had to be canceled. Finally, my mom is trapped at home, and every time I visit I possibly expose her to COVID since I'm having to fill in for server (one of our line cooks and one of our servers have chosen to take a leave of absence from work, due to being in the high risk categories, so I'm taking on some extra in-person server shifts on top of ye olde day job.) It sucks. I feel like I should be doing more for her right now, but I also don't want to endanger her. I'm sure many of us are dealing with that right now.

So that's how I'm doing, in a nutshell (not a very small nutshell, was it?) I've got more work than usual, instead of less, which is probably best. There's been no time to sit around and dwell. We're moving my daughter to a new room, and I'm trying to get my house cleaned and purged of unnecessary stuff (we can't purge right now, because all the donation centers are shut down, but I can be ready to when the time comes.) Other than that, all we can do is take care of ourselves, take care of those we need to take care of, and roll with this thing while we wait to see what happens next.

It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Jemi Fraser’s DANCING WITH DEMENTIA, Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

The author is offering a tour-wide international giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

Recognizing and Coping with the Early Stages of Dementia
by Jemi Fraser
◊ Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
◊ Publisher: Just Jemi Books
◊ eBooks
◊ ISBN-13: 978-1-9991258-1-3

Dementia and Alzheimer’s touch the lives of millions around the world, but so much is still unknown.

As first-generation Canadians, we didn’t recognize the early warning signs. We didn’t know the differences between regular aging and the early stages of dementia. We’ve made mistakes but we’ve learned a lot.

•Identify those early warning signs
•Use visuals to improve communication
•Choose your words wisely
•Redirect and reassure
•Stay calm and cope with your own emotions
•Consider nursing home options
•Improve caregiver self-care

We’ve learned to dance the early steps of the disease with our love and laughter intact. If you are looking for help recognizing early signposts along with practical ways to cope with early Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this book is for you.

I asked Jemi for a Top Ten List. Here it is!

Thanks so much for allowing to visit here at the Warrior Muse! As Shannon enjoys horror, I thought I’d focus on our Top 10 horror moments in our dance with dementia. Lizzie is our Mom and Philip is our stepfather.

Top 10 Horrifying Moments

10. Watching Philip drive his car up to our house, RIGHT up to our house, and not being able to do a thing to stop him

9. The morning I picked up Lizzie to visit Philip in the hospital and realized their car had disappeared from the apartment parking lot

8. Cleaning out an apartment where 2 people with dementia had been “taking care of things” for years

7. The day Philip got his car stuck in a snowbank in a blizzard and Lizzie walked a couple of miles to call for help

6. The day Lizzie saw a cow wandering the hospital hallways

5. The day Lizzie eluded the nursing home staff and safety system and disappeared for hours without anyone knowing where she was

4. Discovering (the hard way) that Lizzie no longer understood the value of coins and bills

3. The day I checked on the pill organizer I’d set up the previous evening to find the medications all reorganized by colour (leaving a potentially deadly combination)

2. The day the police stole Lizzie & Philip’s car … sort of…

1. The day Lizzie & Philip had the grandkids over for lunch … and served vodka in water glasses

Most of these horror moments have a funny side, as long as you enjoy gallows humour anyway. We’ve learned to find the humour in as many situations as we can. It’s one of the best ways to cope as we continue to dance with dementia!

How about you? Anyone else enjoy the dark side of humour? Anyone else use humour to help them cope with the dark side of life?

DANCING WITH DEMENTIA buy links:              Apple Books       Barnes & Noble          Kobo

Add DANCING WITH DEMENTIA to your Goodreads shelf

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, here’s a bit of background on her.

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

For more on Jemi and her writing, visit her following sites:

Amazon Page        BookBub      Goodreads       Facebook       Twitter       Quick Tips Videos


This tour-wide giveaway is for a $20 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway is open internationally.

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Jemi on her week-long tour HERE. You never know what you might find out. I hope dementia hasn’t touch your family or friends, but in case it has do you have any tips to share on dealing with this terrible disease?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back to me (Shannon), I did have a short story  come out in an anthology, XVIII, on the 20th. "Following the Rules" is told from a little girl's viewpoint, and it's all about her night parents.

Since this post is so long, I'm going to save my submission stats and links for next week's post. Plus, my pandemic viewing and reading recommendations.

How are you doing through all this? Have things stayed relatively normal for you, or are you dealing with massive upheaval? What do you think of Jemi's Top Ten list? Have you dealt with a family member with dementia? What are you feeling insecure about? Are you being kind to yourself?

May you find your Muse.