Shannon Muir's Animated Insights

Before this blog I had a free blog at that was originally entitled WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM and offered up small snippets of writing advice often based on my own recent experiences while freelancing. Later on due to a series of events it morphed into SHANNON MUIR’S  ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG. With the advent of creating MUIRWORDS.COM as well as other more targeted sites for my varied audiences, I’m in the process of letting that blog go entirely but didn’t want to lose those interesting nuggets of information. So here in one single post are all the WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM segments that were done for that original blog, slightly rearranged from the original order. Hopefully they inspire you!


One of the most challenging things to do if you want to be a writer is find out what you write about best.  By that I don’t mean even what a person may technically know the most about, but more accurately what someone is passionate about.  That deep interest should shine through the work and keep others interested far better than just well-crafted accurate yet dry facts.


To promote my first book, I had the opportunity to do my very first podcast.  My interviewer was on the East Coast while I was on the West Coast.  The hardest part was actually finding a time that would mutually work for both of us.  This ended up being a Sunday afternoon my time (early evening his time).

Basically, it went like this.  I called, admittedly somewhat nervous because I had no idea what to expect. He briefed me on what to expect, and we launched into it.  We spoke for quite a while, but I got so into it that time felt like it flew. By the time I was done, I wondered why I’d ever been nervous in the first place.

So if you ever get the opportunity to do a podcast… relax, go with the flow, and most importantly have fun!

Hear the podcast here:


As discussed here before, publicity is a necessary evil of being a writer.  Personally, I do great typing things out but not so great in front of an audience.  That said, I’ve been involved in three convention appearances this year.  Two were with people (I moderated and guided the discussion) and I did the third on my own.  Some people would probably find going it solo easier, where complete control of the presentation is a plus.  However, I found I missed having others to bounce off of.  So there’s no one right way, it’s a matter of finding what goes best with your style (and, if you prefer group appearances, if you can find others appropriate to appear with!) and comfort level.


Selling a piece of writing does not end with acceptance from the publisher.  A writer needs to work hard to let people know the work is out there, and that’s easier said than done.  Books prove to be even more a challenge than articles, as I’ve learned firsthand with my own first book being published.  Competition for book signing space, panel appearances, print or radio interviews, and podcasts is fierce!  Keep knocking on doors in hopes that an opening shows itself somewhere, because if you stop doing so that’s a guarantee nothing will happen.  It could very well be someone else’s last minute cancellation that gives a much needed big break!


Book fairs and exhibitions seem like they should be easy to get into.  After all, the idea is to showcase books from a wide variety of authors, right?  In reality, my experience is that this arena is very competitive.  Getting in these kind of shows can be easier if you find one tailored to your writing’s audience versus a general show if you are not a well-known author.  These “specialty shows” may be willing to see what they can do to fit in a few more people and make a smaller event grow than a giant mega event that’s likely turning away a number of names at the door.  That’s not to say don’t try, just don’t be surprised if those larger venues are less likely to bite.


I found recently I generated more buzz than I expected to about myself when I did an article on animation writing for WOW!-Women on Writing for their online April issue.  Simply by having information about myself in my attached bio at the end, those few short lines motivated more than one or two people to seek me out and send emails.  Still having to figure out how to answer most of them, I honestly wasn’t prepared for it.  So, when dashing off those few sentences at the end to summarize yourself at the end of any article you’re asked to do a bio for, choose those lines carefully.  You never know whose attention you might attract!


In the entertainment industry (and in the writing industry in general) one thing that is always emphasized is the need to network, Network, NETWORK.  There are many ways to do this – phone, email, and attending events.

This last also tends to be somewhat problematical in a certain way I only really became aware of in the last year – finding oneself at events with people that you may not be on the best terms with, people who aren’t comfortable with you, or people with a mutual aversion to one another.  To be honest, I’ve now found myself in this situation twice, and in both cases I just did not interact with the people in question.  It didn’t keep me from people I needed to talk to (if it had, I would have gone and talked to them in any case and endured what came), but it just made for an awkward atmosphere.

As I said, I’d been networking for years before I found myself in this situation.  It was a bit of a shock but I got past it.  Don’t let this kind of discomfort stand in the way of what as a freelancer needs to accomplish.  Opening new doors and keeping doors open depends on it.


With the Internet, the ability to advertise leads for freelancing has become easier than ever.  By this, I mean easier for people to find opportunities as well as them to be posted.  Unfortunately, this also opens the door wide for scammers (people who talk writers into doing work on spec with promise of pay on publication, usually once something launches).  Often these scammers have a basic webpage claiming “coming soon” or “under construction” and seem quite credible, which makes checking up on their credibility harder than ever.  So before approaching any company, one should run the name through a search engine and see what comes up first… just in case something has been uncovered in the past about the company.  It may save a lot of heartache in the end.


Most of us can’t make a living on writing alone.  That includes me.  After two books of nonfiction I’m working on trying to get a fiction novel done, but it’s so easy to get distracted by other things after I come back from a long office day at a job I enjoy (and I don’t write at work, for the record!).  Still, I know I have to keep at it so as not to get rusty.  I can alrady see places where my fiction skills need some work because nonfiction has been my sole focus the last two years.  I can only imagine how much more I’ll slip if I don’t keep at it!


I’d love to say there’s an easy solution for this, especially for those of us who also juggle a full-time day job.  But there really isn’t one.  Many articles advise setting aside a dedicated time each day, which frankly I’d love to do but with the reality of having to be up out of bed and out the door in time to make the morning commute and then not always being able to leave work at the same time each day affecting what time I get home… well, you get the idea.  Then, even with the assistance of digital recording devices or even your trusty old videocassette recorder, shows on TV can be captured for later but sometimes after a long day’s work you just want to watch it NOW.

Or, perhaps you work that regular schedule and always set aside a time to work.  Creativity, in my experience, doesn’t seem to operate like clockwork.

What I wind up doing is writing when I feel bursts to do so, as long as it’s appropriate (i.e. while not on the clock at work).  Whether it’s out at lunch, at home, in the park, I always take something to write on with me.  Then I take those transcriptions and flesh them out when I get home.  Overall, I’ve found I get more done that way and don’t lose my best flashes of inspiration to feeling like “I need to keep a schedule”.

NOTE: These snippets were originally separate, individual blog posts that appeared at WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM/SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG between October 2007 and April 2008.

COMMENTARY – WISPS OF WRITING WISDOM, THE COMPLETE SERIES was originally published on Muirwords by Shannon Muir

Jem and the Holograms - “I’m Okay” by Kimber and Stormer

Feeling like this kind of jam tonight…


ICYMI, only you can prevent wildfires!

Proving my point about my masters thesis, sometimes animated spokespeople can endure!


ICYMI, only you can prevent wildfires!

Proving my point about my masters thesis, sometimes animated spokespeople can endure!




Work is underway to wrap up SEEDS OF TRUTH, a prequel to the rest of  the TRUTH REVEALED series, by the end of the month. It will provide an opportunity – through the framework of Firinne (nicknamed “Truth”) as a young confused child first wrestling with the idea that she has an ability – to see a chronological sequence of events around how her own mother grew up that will inform the reader as to the current state of events in the main series while underscoring the sadness that Firinne cannot easily recall visions or even memories of her own past.

What follows is the finalized Prologue for SEEDS OF TRUTH. Watch for future announcements regarding purchase information.


“Grandma,” Firinne asked as her grandmother, Darbhail, tucked her into bed for the night. “Why is it I can’t remember the things I dream about? I mean, I know I dream. And I can remember how to do things, or the names of people I know. But why can’t I remember those same kinds of things when I dream about them?”

Firinne felt her Grandma’s warm kiss on her forehead, and instantly it soothed her.

“Firinne, you are a very special little girl,” Darbhail replied, yet to Firinne sounded so very sad.

“But isn’t every little girl special?” Firinne asked innocently.

“Oh my child, not like you. Especially these last several weeks. You’ve started to show how truly special you are. Maybe your mother was right to do what she did.”

Firinne sat up in bed.

“Right about what? I don’t understand.”

She noticed the look of shock on her grandmother’s face, and then Darbhail eased Firinne back into bed and under the covers.

“I’ve worried about you, child, since your mother chose to get involved with your father. I was concerned and I was right to do so, as he ran away and left her alone.”

“Is that why she won’t tell me his name?” Firinne said. “Will you tell me his name? Then I’ll be able to remember it.”

“Both of us are pretty sure he never shared his true name. What we do know wouldn’t help. And I would be disrespecting your mother if I did. I will tell you he wasn’t of the old ways, so I didn’t think you would ever be in tune with our family’s kinds of gifts.”

“So that’s all the stuff you’ve promised to teach me about?”

Darbhail squeezed Firinne’s hand.

“Yes, my sweet Firinne. Many won’t understand what you can do, but it is a gift. Always remember that. Sleep well, sleep deep, and remember you are loved.”

“But sometimes I feel like don’t remember anything at all except what my body knows it must do to live!” the little girl protested.

Her grandmother looked directly at Firinne and held her gaze.

“Firinne, you have to learn to trust yourself. The visions you see, in waking and slumber, they are only part of you. They are not all of you. If nothing I can teach you impacts you, then I hope somewhere inside you will carry this memory and be able to recall it through my eyes. Hear me now, to recall and remember. There is always that point where a new day and a new life begins, what we believe we are forced to be is not. Your mother failed to understand this and I fear it will be her undoing unless she is convinced to change it. But in the end, the choice must be hers, just as the choice must be yours. Do you understand me, Firinne?”

“I don’t know, Grandma,” Firinne quietly admitted.

Her grandmother kissed her on the forehead.

“I carry hope and faith that someday you will .Always remember I love you. Good night.”

Darbhail turned off the light and left Firinne alone in the dark. Young Firinne tossed and turned in bed. She could no longer remember the emotions of the other little girl being unhappy with her on the playground several weeks ago that triggered the grandmother becoming aware of her gift. Unless she had some anchor to grab to help her recall the memory, she would soon forget, just as that incident faded. Strangers weren’t worth the energy to remember. Visions she saw of the family past, however, could not have a value tag placed on them. After all, the visions of others’ pasts made it impossible to retain her memories of life experiences. Only through the eyes of others could little Firinne see herself. Even then, that only worked while the others were alive, at least in most cases. Grandmother told Firinne she would be able to see the viewpoints of those that passed on as long as they held to the old ways due to a greater bond with the powers, and spoke it often to try and cement this in young Firinne’s mind, so much so that it frustrated the little girl.

That night, she tried to soothe herself to sleep calling up images from her own mother’s past, the town fortune teller whose name even her daughter did not know for sure.  In her visions, the only person she heard speak to her mother by name was her beloved grandmother who helped raised her, divorced from a grandfather who remained a mystery save for a handful of splintered visions. On the rare occasions  Firinne called her mother Muirgheal because the name had not slipped from memory, her mother told her she must never speak that name but never told her the right one.

Firinne found more comfort in visions from her mother’s viewpoint in the past then the cold, distant woman she’d become now. This time, instead of the comfort thinking of her mother normally provided, it brought fitful slumber and discomfort as more revealed to her than ever before. After all, her grandmother expressed concern about Firinne’s mother’s choices. She wanted to understand why, if only for a moment.

Copyright 2014 Shannon Muir. All rights reserved. Do not copy or re-blog without the consent of the author, but do feel free to share on social media  in its entirety using appropriate links or share features.


SEEDS OF TRUTH – PROLOGUE PREVIEW was originally published on Spontaneous Choices


Throwback: Jem and the Holograms performing “Open a Book”


Throwback: Jem and the Holograms performing “Takes Work”


After five months without work, I have a job again. It’s great to be busy and making regular money for a while.

But that doesn’t change I still have writing deadlines to meet. One is self-imposed; the other two have contract dates of a little over a month from now. Even though they are short stories, there is a lot of effort involved to get the details right. I have to balance not rushing through them just to meet deadlines, while making sure I get enough rest from my time at work.

It is my hope that being able to work regularly will actually bring me renewed energy and focus to the writing side of the house. Usually I work best under pressure. I hope that with the fact I know I have limited time to write, plus set deadlines, things will take off for me.

As to the self-imposed deadline, my goal is to try and set the TRUTH REVEALED prequel SEEDS OF TRUTH out by the end of August, but it might slide into September. The short stories are due by mid-September and must take priority.

I’ll keep you posted!

COMMENTARY – GETTING BACK INTO THE SWING was originally published on Muirwords by Shannon Muir

Jem and the Holograms - “I’m Coming From Behind” by Jem

Just found out there’s an official channel for JEM Music videos and Hasbro Studios. This one feels like it fits my mood for today :)

Author Website

Though I’ll make specific announcements about new releases on the related blogs that will cross-post to Tumblr in the future, if you want to see a comprehensive list of my works check my author site.

Getting to Know Me As an Author

If you’re new to finding about myself and my works, I’ve done a few interviews over the last couple years. This post contains links to all of them so you can find out more.