The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Official Teaser Trailer [HD]
Not many people know that at one point a number of years ago, I hosted a writing group at my area church. It didn’t really take off, in large part because of the logistics of how far away I live from my church. The mission was to speak of developing the craft of writing on a general level, both secular and within faith, to convey any message. I tended to come from a perspective of how to speak with integrity standing on your faith in works for a secular or faith market (thereby playing on the multiple meanings of “spreading the word”), versus just using the word to share one’s faith.
For several years I maintained separate hosting at a URL in addition to a blog, and recently decided to retire actively hosting a separate website as a hub for content. The original Blogger blog, which took my old print pamphlets and put them on the web along with added commentary, is still available.
So for now, I encourage anyone looking for Creative Words to Spread the Words to visit http://creativewordstospreadtheword.blogspot.com/. I need to spend a while re-evaluating next steps for where I want to take this idea as a whole, especially since I still own the URL.
PRO SE PRESENTS: THE NEWSLETTER’s fifth issue comes out tomorrow! What? Not subscribed yet? Want to see press releases, sneak previews, articles from staff and creators, and more? Then you need to subscribe at http://prose-press.com/pro-se-presents-the-newsletter/! A new issue Every two weeks!
The Prequel to THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA contains a Prologue that was originally published on the WILLOWBROOKNOVELS blog as a “Glimpses of Willowbrook” piece that can be read as self contained. This post shows a piece deeper in the story as it features main characters from the text, Mona Williams and Albert Rawlins. Order today at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, Smashwords, and other retailers.
On Valentine’s Day, Albert Rawlins found Mona crying in the alcove by the janitor’s closet.
“Mona?” he asked her. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t get any boys to like me.”
“You can’t make boys like you, dear.”
“But if boys don’t like me, how am I supposed to have a baby?”
Albert Rawlins put his hands on Mona’s shoulders, firmly but gently.
“Mona, look at me, please.”
Mona did as her teacher asked.
“When we talked before, I didn’t think you had any interest in going that path.”
He gestured to the janitor’s closet.
“We can talk more privately in there.”
They entered and Albert locked the door from the inside.
“What’s changed for you, Mona?”
“Mr. Rawlins, I’m looking at what’s going on. More and more fighting goes on every day. Young men are being asked to go join the conflicts. Right now, there aren’t many opportunities for women here, and those who do advanced studies here go into nursing. They’ll be spending time taking care of men that hurt and return.”
“Which you don’t want to do, I take it,” he asked.
“No. I don’t have it in me for that kind of work. If I could get a boy interested in me that loved me, maybe I could be married before he would be asked to the war front, but I don’t have it in me to trick a boy just to be married. Given no one is interested in me that is what it would take to be married.”
Albert reached for Mona and held her to his chest.
“So tell me, Mona, it sounds like you’ve thought quite a bit about this. What is it that you believe having a baby would solve for you?”
“It would give me something to focus on, and my mother too, now that my father is gone doing this important job and could be gone a long time.”
Albert stroked her hair.
“And you’re not ashamed of being an unmarried mother?”
“No. I won’t be alone. There will be other young girls, desperate to get soldiers to marry them before they go, that will be left with a baby but no ring. There will even be some that won’t know who the fathers are, they’re so desperate. I can blend in and be part of the statistics.”
Albert started to undo Mona’s clothing.
“Then what are we waiting for?”
“Wait, Mr. Rawlins. What are you doing? I could have your baby,” she said in a panic, and then suddenly realized the thought wasn’t offensive to her. “No one would have to find out.”
“I know,” Albert replied, reaching down and moving her clothing aside. “I want you to have a child with me. You’re such a special student.”
Mona loved the thought of sharing such a beautiful secret with Albert Rawlins. She did like his eyes. Her baby would be beautiful with Mr. Rawlins’ eyes
Excerpt Copyright 2014 Shannon Muir. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share via the social networks built into the blog, but may not be reposted in whole or in part without permission.
“The series can be somewhat difficult to navigate given that the viewpoints of a lot of information come from the vision perspective of lead character Truth Knox, also known as Firinne,” author Shannon Muir previously explained when the book was announced. “Skipping around with so many viewpoints and characters makes it challenging to convey a lot of needed background information while also trying to keep the plot moving. There is a lot of information not yet revealed about Truth’s mother that is critical for going forward with the remainder of the story. As I started to work on Book 3, I realized that I would need to isolate all that background information because it bogged down trying to move the plot forward. Being relatively new to writing series, I’m learning ways that I can make things better for the readers by the presentation of information. Ultimately what matters is that the readers enjoy the story. I don’t want the style of the story to bog down that enjoyment.”
To that end, SEEDS OF TRUTH – the prequel to the series – is a younger Truth Knox getting a series of visions about her mother’s own growing up and how she became the woman that we meet in Book 1. This story is really more about Truth’s mother, using the younger girl as its framing sequence. The hope and intent is that by presenting focused flashbacks in a chronological order, while also maintaining Truth’s own chronological age order if this book is read first, that readers will be able to keep focus on the storyline at hand.
“It wasn’t serving the storytelling to keep a lot about Truth’s mother and her family secret,” Muir explained previously. “Actually, in Book 3, it left a lot more to explain. With young Truth providing a framing sequence of sorts around snippets of her mother’s growing up, we better come to understand Truth’s mother and the family dynamics that are in place throughout the series. I think it will make for a stronger read overall.”
Muir’s goal was to keep readers engaged and able to follow the story’s challenging perspective, she added in a follow-up.
“In a way it is kind of twisted, since the lead character’s nickname is Truth, but in actuality because Truth has issues remembering her own past she’s an unreliable narrator on her own. This makes her memories of the pasts of others the more reliable narration, but a book constantly skipping around to have other people’s pasts from their own biased viewpoints gets to be hard to follow. The goal, is with all these flashbacks in to Truth’s mother’s past out of the way, that the remainder of the story will be less cluttered by having to jump off the main storyline to visions that explain key details to the audience.”
SEEDS OF TRUTH has been released as an ebook for 99 cents USD. This book can be read without having read any prior book in the series before it, and will be designed to be a good starting point as well as one that fills in the gaps for those who have reads Books 1 and 2.
Between now and September 1st, SEEDS OF TRUTH will be available at Smashwords for FREE with coupon code RX37J.
The TRUTH REVEALED series is scheduled to conclude in 2015.
This summer, I introduced you to many of the fellow writers I’ve started writing alongside as part of the Creative Contributors of Pro Se Productions, a leader in Genre Fiction (including New Pulp).
If you missed any of the interviews, here’s a complete alphabetical listing by last name.
Doing this let me get to know my fellow Creative Contributors much better and let me know their unique viewpoints on writing. I also appreciated the level of interest when I asked this as a general inquiry. Participation was totally voluntary, and I thank everyone who took the time to join in.
In particular, I need to thank Kevin Paul Shaw Broden for introducing me to the work and company of Pro Se. He wasn’t interviewed over the summer, since he had an interview at this site in the past (which his name links to). If I hadn’t heard about Pro Se through him, I wouldn’t have come to submit and be accepted for NEWSHOUNDS. Besides appearing alongside me in NEWSHOUNDS, Kevin’s also had work featured in the anthology BLACK FEDORA, for which the cover art appears above (with thanks to Tommy Hancock at Pro Se Productions for providing it). BLACK FEDORA features three different people society labels as villians, and although not all three literally wear the fabled hat, they show that – unlike the stunning cover – that being a villian is not all black and white. This book, also featuring stories by B.C. Bell and Philip Drayer Duncan, received a nomination for Best Collection/Anthology for the 2014 New Pulp Awards.
Most of all, thank you, readers, for joining INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS for the Summer of Pro Se… and hopefully you’ve discovered some great new genre fiction reads. If you like anything you learned, please feel free to use the social media links to Facebook, Tweet, use Pinterest to get the word around. Word of mouth means a lot to all writers, and if you liked what you discovered, I’m sure they’d like to hear from you. I know I would as both a site administrator and as a writer.
Is NEWSHOUNDS a one hit appearance for me with Pro Se? Keep an eye out for future commentaries and unravel that mystery for yourself!
NOTE: This piece originally appeared March 6, 2011, on SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG. With the 30th anniversary of VOLTRON pending, it seemed appropriate to post again.
Every year, professionals and fans from across animation gather at the Hollywood Heritage Museum (also known as the DeMille-Lansky Barn, since the converted barn served as the first movie studio in Hollywood in 1913) to remember people from all professions across the industry that have passed. Where possible, they try to find speakers for each individual on the list. This event is cosponsored by the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood, and Women in Animation.
Before this year, I’d never attended the event, and I think just heard of it once. An animation writer I’d met through a well respected mutual friend contacted me and asked if I would speak on behalf of Peter Keefe, whose impact on my life I’ve written in past blogs. Ever since I came to Los Angeles, I’ve always been at war with the “fan” and “pro” sides of myself. There were incidents that occurred that made me feel people took me less seriously as a pro because I’d become so well known in the fan community.
That said, I was very honored to be asked, but questioned if there might be someone more appropriate that really knew him. Assured I’d be a fit, I agreed to go ahead with it, even though also admittedly I’m a nervous public speaker. I will say from experience it’s easier to moderate panels where other people do the talking than do it myself!
So I went up and gave my well worked over speech, with rewrites up to the almost the last minute, made twenty-five years to the month (maybe even the week) since I received my response back from Head Writer Marc Handler. I wanted to keep it very balanced between a bio of his work and what happened to me, and not make it look like I was hogging the podium just to talk about me. I have a big hangup about being perceived liek that. In addition, the speech was taped, and despite my radio-tv background cameras make me nervous too! That said, I think it’s good it was captured on tape. Since it was the ASIFA crew I presume it’s intended for the animation archive library but not completely sure. Based on all the stories I heard that day I sincerely hope it is.
As I said, I’ve often felt split by my “fan” side and my “professional” side, but after yesterday this is something I no longer feel. Standing in a group of professionals, acknowledging my own transition thanks to Peter’s Keefe’s action from one to the other, brought about a healing and wholeness of its own. To be asked by pros to speak about an event that happened when I was a fan, and how I am now a pro, thanks to one action of Peter Keefe, brought about a healing and catharsis of its own.
The speech ended with me quoting my favorite VOLTRON line, delivered by Lance: “Every night I used to count the stars… I never dreamed I’d be flying among them.” Lance is played by Michael Bell, a versatile voice actor whose work I respect immensely. So I sit down expecting the MC to introduce the next guest when someone else walks up the aisle, the first time two people have spoken on a person. To my absolute surprise, it is Michael Bell (at which point, while totally caught up in his story of meeting Peter Keefe once at a recording session, am having the ultimate fangirl moment in my head)!
Michael came back up a couple people later to speak about whom he came to speak about, and was gone by intermission… given we ran two hours over projection that’s to be expected. He did reach out and give me a friendly high five as he came back down the aisle though, and I thank him for that. If he hadn’t helped make Lance a character that resonated with me, along with the writers of the show, I wouldn’t have been inspired to write about and create Nina to be his female equal and love interest for my sister and I to then craft stories around. Then there would never have been anything to try and send to World Events Productions and Peter Keefe, and I probably would not be writing to you right now. Thank you for coming up, Michael Bell, even though you came to speak for another departed friend. That meant a lot to me and I think the others there as well.
Again, I say, thank you Peter Keefe - for everything.
NOTE: This piece originally appeared May 29, 2010, on SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: THE BLOG. With the 30th anniversary of VOLTRON pending, it seemed appropriate to post again.
As word spreads over the Internet of the passing of Peter Keefe, the former Executive Producer at World Events Productions who in the 1980s took two Japanese anime robot properties and created VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE, I’m finally working my way past the shock-like state I’ve been in over it for the past twelve hours. I thought it would be at least another twenty years before I heard news like this. You always hope people get to live a long full life, not pass away of throat cancer at 57 as Peter Keefe did.
Peter Keefe is - was - more to me than just the Executive Producer of one of my favorite shows of the past 25 years. Without him, I very likely might not be in the career I’m in, or at least not gotten there quite the same way. For not only am I Shannon Muir, book author; Shannon Muir, animation writer; Shannon Muir, production person…
… I’m Shannon Muir, one of the best known Internet fans and repositories information of the VOLTRON universe - a resident “loremaster” if you will - whose Denubian Galaxy starmap was considered well researched enough that World Events paid me as a consultant to use it on their (now defunct) voltronforce.com site promoting VOLTRON: THE THIRD DIMENSION.
The thing is, if I hadn’t been that VOLTRON fan first, the rest very likely would never have followed.
Over the years, a lot of people have heard my story of how I wrote what would be considered “premises” and sent them off to the VOLTRON offices, to finally get a response from the Head Writer that changed my life. However, the part of the story that most often went untold is that the Head Writer received those items on the West Coast care of a single executive’s desk in St. Louis.
The fact of the matter is, everything hinged on what Mr. Keefe could have done. He could have treated my material like they had with a number of the fan kids writing in - such as my first letter sent via my local television station - and just received back yet another letter supposedly signed by the Voltron Force and some promo materials. Mr. Keefe could have just written me back a tiny personal note saying thanks but we’re doing no more episodes; that would have sufficed.
Yet, somehow, for some reason, he did more than that. Mr. Keefe bothered to send them to his West Coast writer for his review and feedback, which resulted in encouragement that kept me pursuing wanting to be an “animation writer” at the age of 13. I never found out why he chose to go that route, and I now never will know. Maybe he just didn’t have the time to respond, but if that was the case, where would he have found time to send it? Maybe he felt that amount of effort deserved extra attention? Like I said, the answers shall forever be a mystery.
The impact, however, is undeniable. I found out about Mr. Keefe’s passing Friday afternoon (May 28th, 2010) at work, while waiting for some other folks to get their stuff done so we could leave for the long weekend. My fiance’ brought an article in the Hollywood Reporter to my attention, and I opened it up to read the sad news. That moment, my world really felt like it went all out of alignment. Realizing that the desk I sat out, the friends I had outside that door, the fact I had enough credentials to have a second book on animation to just be released in trade paperback, my entire professional career, revolved around the choice of one man who was no longer among the living - it overwhelmed me. I couldn’t hold the tears in. I just wound up closing my office door, crying a bit, then calling my sister in Washington State who hadn’t heard the news. No one would understand quite like her, or my parents. Though my schoolmates and teachers knew parts of my story after the fact, my family saw me create and struggle and hope before it all became real.
After talking to her, I wiped my eyes, opened the door, and tried to focus that life goes on… and it does for sure. Yet it feels a different place knowing Peter Keefe isn’t in it, although we never met.
I’m going to close with a story I’ve never told before publicly, though it kind of helps make sense to how I feel I think.
Peter Keefe and my paths crossed indirectly in a sense one time years later, about 2005. The company Peter Keefe later worked at (one of several) called Earthworks Entertainment struck a licensing agreement with Big Dogs Sportswear of Santa Barbara for property development. I don’t know what exactly became of that. What I do know is that a reporter from Santa Barbara somehow pieced together that the professional Shannon Muir in Los Angeles and VOLTRON fan Shannon Muir were one in the same and called my Los Angeles apartment. The reporter somehow had the impression that Peter Keefe remained more of a mentor than he in actuality was, and wanted to better profile the person who licensed one of the best loved brands of the Santa Barbara area. This conversation proved very awkward, not only because I had to correct the reporter’s misconceptions, but I couldn’t figure out how they got them in the first place. I pieced together enough information from the reporter to figure out how to contact Peter Keefe and wrote him a long email, both a thank you but to also let him know about the conversation I’d had with the reporter and the misconceptions tied to it. Unfortunately for Mr. Keefe, I also have a pet peeve that dates back to middle school about other people trying to take all the credit for my successes, which was the impression the reporter left me with - that Peter Keefe was responsible for everything and I for nothing. Also, back then, I saw the Head Writer of VOLTRON as the one who really made a difference, though I recognized Peter Keefe’s role and thanked him for that. I never heard back.
What I realize, too little too late, it that it’s time to set the record straight. While ultimately I got where I am based on my own drive and determination, people helping me and encouraging me played a big role… and for years I have portrayed it with the Head Writer as a major role and Peter Keefe as a minor player, because that’s how I felt all those years. I wanted to be a writer, so I counted the writer’s vocal opinion over the producer’s action. He may never have said a word, but his action of sending my material to the Head Writer spoke volumes. I didn’t understand that then, but I do now.
Fact of the matter is, both of them played equal parts in that story. I’m very sorry it took his death to make that clear.
So thank you, Peter Keefe, for everything.
Before this blog I had a free blog at WordPress.com 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!
FINDING WHAT ONE WRITES ABOUT BEST
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.
MY FIRST PODCAST
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: http://www.catchdacraze.com/episode94.html
SPEAKING AT CONVENTIONS
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.
THE STRUGGLE OF PUBLICITY
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
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.
WRITING ARTICLES AND ADVERTISING YOURSELF…
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!
THE DIFFICULTIES IN NETWORKING
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.
LOOKING FOR LEADS
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.
MOONLIGHTING AND WRITING…
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!
FINDING TIME TO WRITE
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.