Monday, January 9, 2017

Hanging Out with Shannon Reber: Crazy Prolific Indie Author

Hi everyone! It's been a while since I've introduced you all to a fabulous indie author, so let's rectify that by dragging one of my Twitter sisters over to the hot seat!

That's Twitter sister, not twisted sister, though really, I'm not sure there's much of a difference when it comes to the authors I proudly claim as my second family. Shannon Reber is family. You may recall that I reviewed Shannon's first novella, The Seer last year as part of my Write On! review segment. Well, in the year since, this gal has penned a total of eighteen books. Yeah, let that sink in! Eighteen books! AND she'll be offering five of them for free this Friday, January 13th as part of our SIA Showcase event.

Which is why we're here today, Shannon's lucky eighteenth book, Friends and Foes, just launched today. To celebrate, I sat down with Shannon to discuss the new book, her other books, life as an Indie author, and which Twitter sibling is the best (spoiler alert, it's me).

CHRISTINA MCMULLEN: So Shannon, let's get the important stuff out of the way. Tell us about the new book and why we should all run right over to Amazon and throw money at you?

SHANNON REBER: Because my book is fabulous!!! Duh. Honestly though, it's my favorite one I've written. Emery is this sweet, naive, snarky little thing who makes me laugh as I write her and will hopefully make you fall in love too! It's an adventure, a love story, a fantasy phantasm of fun! 

CM: And this one is definitely fantasy, but it looks like it also takes place in our world?

SR: Yup. Both Avalon and the human world, but the human world is where the body of the story takes place. Iowa, actually. Google maps took me to Mount Pleasant Iowa and kind of made me want to buy a house there...but my husband isn't down with that idea. *Sighs.*

CM: Hmm, Western New York isn't that bad though, for you weirdos who like the cold! I assume Iowa would have snow too though. 

SR: Well of course it does! All GOOD places have snow, dude. 

CM: So to go off topic for a moment, what's with you and cold weather?

SR: LOL, boots sista. Boots. I can't wear them without looking like a complete tool during the summer! 

CM: You obviously haven't been to Texas. Boots are worn all year 'round. But that's a different story. The story where I drag you down to Texas. But let's get back to your stories. You write a lot, as I've noted, but you tend to stick to the broader fantasy category. What's your favorite out of all the books you have written?

SR: Fantasy is the only way to go in my world. It's a complete escape from reality. All the mundane details of life fade away when you're wrapped up in a story where people have powers and evil villains are out to get you. My favorite of my own books used to be Gray (Awakening Book 1) but Friends and Foes has now taken the cake! Ooooh, cake. Wait, wait...back to the books. *Giggles like a huge dork.* Other people's books though, I have too many favorites even to name. Tolkien, CS Lewis and this fabulous author named Christina McMullen...just to name a few. Get me away from reality and I'm all good!

CM: Christina who? Ugh! Not her again! So what's next? You've written eighteen books in just over a year. Are you planning the next eighteen?

SR: LOL, I'm planning the next hundred and eighteen! I have two different series to finish off, not including The Druid Heirs trilogy, but when those are all finished, I was thinking about writing something like a prequel for The Uniters Code series. It would be how The Uniters came to be, who founded them and how the war began. If not that one, then one, or two, or twelve others might be floating around. Oh and I also need to think about painting again, but I've been so obsessive about writing, it's fallen by the wayside. Wait...did I just admit to being obsessive. Woops. 

CM: That's right! I almost forgot, you're an artist too! Geez! Save some talent for the rest of us! But seriously, I love that I know so many indie authors who are also visual artists as well. Would you say there are similarities between the two mediums or are they separated in your mind entirely?

SR: I see them as exactly the same! A painting tells a story, you just have to make it up as you look at it. And talent is the last thing I'd call what I do. Mine is just a determination get some of the crazy out of my head. Writing, mind tries to release my weirdness that way, but it just holds on with both hands! LOL!

CM: There is nothing wrong with weirdness. After all, we excel at it! And speaking of that, let's get personal for a moment. As I've revealed to the world, we are sisters, not in the biological sense, but in that we have formed some sort of a weird family dynamic on Twitter among a small group of authors. Obviously, I'm your favorite, but let's look at this from a different standpoint. You, me, and our other siblings have never met in person. Are we as real as real life friends?

SR: You are definitely my favorite, mostly because you're as in love with coffee as I am! And uh, you guys are FAR more real! You guys are there with me all the time, the voice in my pocket that always makes me smile, or sometimes roll my eyes. I spend SO much time in front of my laptop, without you guys, I'd be a mess! You should totally consider yourself hugged by the way and maybe we should have a coffee to toast our Twitter-kinship! 

CM: Aw! Thanks! I ask because I think that's the one thing people tend to forget about us. As indies, we're really more accessible to readers than some of the other authors who might have a few billion more fans and dollar than us. We're real people! We have feelings! So come talk to us, right?

SR: Right! I've had SO many conversations with one of my fans on Facebook! I love hearing about what she thinks of my books, etc. And seriously, if my phone dings to tell me there's a message, it makes me giddy. Will it be Christina, Dan, Ben, CB...Ellie, Ana...ok, I won't list them all. Twitter rocks, this is what I'm saying. 

CM: I recognize some of those names! Well, sis, I've probably kept your phone dinging for too long, so we'll wrap up this interview. Before we go, is there anything we missed that you feel is super important for readers to know?

SR: If coffee is involved, I want to be there. That's the most important thing for any reader to know. *Giggling yet again.* 

CM: I can't argue with that! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me!

SR: No problem! Thanks for interviewing me and being so stinking fabulous! 

Description for Friends and Foes
The people of Avalon think that Emery is a disgrace. They all have access to many forms of magic, but Emery has only one. Or that's what they always believed.

After a brutal war, the new Queen of Avalon sends Emery to the human realm to find the last druid. Emery takes that mission eagerly, certain it's a sign that, unlike everyone else, her mother may have some faith in her.

Her mission, to bring Liam, the illegitimate son of the former king and bring him back to Avalon is no easy feat. Mercenaries are also searching for him, but the biggest problem for Emery, is the linked formed between them when Liam's power touched her.

Now, she has to figure out what the truth is, who is right, who is wrong, who are friends...who are foes. Can she figure it out before something terrible happens?

Friends and Foes is available right now on Amazon for the Kindle e-reader. Want more? Watch the trailer HERE Or listen to Shannon read an excerpt HERE.

About the Author
Shannon Reber was born a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . . or her imagination was anyway. She lives in western New York with her husband and a wide variety of both real and imaginary friends who often battle it out for dominance in her head. Who needs yet another normal person in this messed up world? Read her books, or the evil overlord will take control of her mind!

Connect with Shannon

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Small Nothing I Did

I wrote a short story. Yes, I know, that's not exactly shocking since I'm an author and there's even a short story floating around somewhere on this blog. But actually, yeah, it's a bit more peculiar than you'd think. Short story writing is not easy and it's not something that is given anywhere near enough respect these days. Shocking, really, in this age of short attention spans. Personally, I keep a well-stocked collection of short works on my Kindle specifically for those moments when I find myself in need of a distraction from boredom, but I don't have enough time to invest myself in a longer work.

But this little story... Well, you'll see. 
Here's the cover and blurb:

Chevelle Falsetto has died, struck down by the number 48 bus. The very bus she should have been riding to work. Now, instead of explaining to her boss why she's late, Chevelle finds herself explaining to Saint Peter why she's early. 

This is a curious little work. It's barely a story, weighing in at a measly six thousand words (for perspective, The Eyes of The Sun is over 100k words and each Discordant novel is roughly 50k). It's not sci-fi, it's not even fantasy, and it only brushes lightly against the humor category. Even weirder, it's vaguely religious and in a way that is surely going to lose me favor with those would interpret my interpretations of the Christian afterlife as blasphemous. 

And it all started with a dream. 

I've heard people say they've dreamed up plots in their sleep. Stephanie Meyer famously commented that Twilight was based on a dream. My good friend and author Ann Livi Andrews has on more than one occasion relayed to me dreams that were so intricate, thought out, and coherent that I had to ask what she eats before she goes to sleep. Me? I dream about hiding out in a dishwasher because our fish overlords are on a rampage. Oh, and I'm out of lemon Pledge, which will surely be a grave disappointment to the skeleton dance troupe I'm supposed to be visiting. 

But this one night, I didn't dream of a plot, but a title. All the nothing we've done was apparently a running theme in a dream.  I don't remember the details, if there were in fact details to remember. So I wrote it down (actually, what I wrote was 'All of the nothing we did' but I tweaked a little), thinking it was something I may or may not explore at a later date. Well, it kept bugging me. And bugging me. And eventually, I had these little plot bunnies jumping around in my head, which was not ideal, seeing as I was trying to finish up what would eventually be the first draft of a story I've been working on for years now.  

And like everything I ever thought I was going to write, those plot bunnies were tossed out the window when I finally sat down and got to work. Instead, I kept coming back to my twenties, also known here as my pretentious years. At the time, I was convinced I was going to take the world by storm and become the next great American novelist. I was also insecure as all get out and considered myself a ginormous failure as a human because I had no traditional 'accomplishments' to my name. 

Yet every so often, I'd have these moments. Not necessarily moments of clarity, but moments of acceptance, I think, where I would think about all of the positives in my life and how much better off I was for deriving simple pleasures in an otherwise complicated existence. 

Chevelle is the manifestation of those moments. She's someone I never truly was, which is perhaps a good thing as who I was and who I am are not even remotely close, yet so very intrinsically intertwined. But Chevelle is also someone who will never have a chance to be who I now am. But who's to say she would have ever followed this path anyway?  

I assure, you, despite everything above, and despite the fact that I really had no choice but to place this book into the category of literary fiction, it is not anywhere near as pretentious as it would have been had I attempted to write it twenty years ago. In fact, there's a damned good possibility that in writing this story, I've inadvertently parodied my younger self. Regardless, I hope you enjoy reading. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

As the World Turns

It's December 31st. New Year's Eve. A time when I typically stay hunkered down at home with a beer and a book because I'm old and people don't take the dangerous reality of drunk driving as seriously as they should. Occasionally, I'll look back at the past year, reflect on this or that, and look ahead at what's to come. I say occasionally because honestly, without looking back at this blog, I can't even remember if I did that last year. But I will say a few words today on 2016.

Admittedly, there was a lot of rough things happening in 2016. Our global landscape is changing, both physically and politically, and not for the better. A lot of beloved celebrities died, some too soon and others because, well, none of us are immortal. But I can't get behind this negativity surrounding the year itself.

2016 is a numeric designation used for chronicling events both good and bad. The number cannot be blamed for all the bad that has happened. Likewise, we are not going to wake tomorrow to a world magically changed because we've now slipped on a new pair of shoes called 2017.

Initially, I'd planned a post about all of the good things that happened in 2016. Things like the Cubs winning the world series after more than a century and finally getting a Star Wars film that gave me the same kind of emotional rollercoaster ride the original trilogy did in my youth. But there are already posts like this. Tons of them. Really well thought out, thorough, and heartwarming articles are out there and I can't hold a candle to them, so go, read those.

So I'm stuck talking about the only subject I know well: me. Narcissistic much, writer girl? ;)

2016 on a personal level was a mixed bag. I began the year on a mental low, still grieving the loss of our dog, Penny in late 2015. Yes, losing a beloved pet can be just as devastating on one's mental health as losing a loved one. Luckily for us, we still have two healthy and happy pups who helped us through the worst of it. In fact, just recently, we discovered that one of our dogs is younger than we thought, giving us the potential of an extra year with that lovable little furball. If that isn't a silver lining, then I don't know what is.

I'd hoped to have more to talk about on a personal level, but alas, there were some setbacks on that front meaning my lips remain sealed on the everyday ongoings of the McMullen household. Perhaps 2017 will be the year I get to make certain announcements. Mysterious, yes. Sorry 'bout that.

But on the business side, 2016 was an amazing year. Due in part to a couple of well timed promotions, I've more than doubled the number of books I've moved since starting this journey four years before. I can only hope to continue with that kind of luck (yes, luck) in 2017.

Also, despite several issues keeping me from exercising my brain, I managed to push out a new title and get a lot of work ready to go in the near future, including finally finishing the rough draft for the problem-plagued Princess Robot Commander. Work on book two begins immediately and I'm hoping to actually have an announcement about that series this summer. In the meantime, I'll be experimenting with some short stories that stretch the limits of the sci-fi and fantasy genres and spill over into literary fiction and magical realism.

Looking ahead, I don't do New Year resolutions. I can't. I'm bad at them. But what I will do is continue to try and remain positive. I will continue to push my indie publishing agenda. I will continue to neglect the hell out of this blog. And I will continue to do everything I can to ensure that I am in position to assume my role as right hand meat puppet when the robots take over.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Since the Commercials Won't Stop...

Hi folks. You may recall that last year in December, I stopped advertising my books and instead used my social media accounts to promote charitable organizations and positivity. Well, in the wake of recent events and because I'm already being bombarded by tasteless holiday car ads, I've decided to once again do the same and I've decided to start today. I am taking down my pinned tweet for my book and putting up a message of peace. I will do the same for Vlad. Facebook currently has a black box as both my profile picture and header. I do not need to explain why, but once I decide to change it, I will upload something pleasant and not anything business related.

To those who think this is actually a stunt to get you to feel bad and buy my books, I assure you, life doesn't work like that. Last December was my lowest royalty month since 2013 when I didn't have a single completed series. I will continue to post freebie books periodically, but I'll not be doing any advertising until 2017.

Also, I am not asking anyone to join me and I am not looking down my nose at anyone who continues to shout about their own work. You do not have to justify yourself to me. But understand that no advertising means no advertising and this extends to sharing the ads of others on social media. I may retweet a freebie, but I'm not going to share ads from other authors until the holidays have passed.

What I am going to share, is charitable and outreach programs. And for that, I would like your help. I am looking for organizations to showcase that help in the following areas:

LGBTQ+ Rights
Refugee Assistance
Women's Reproductive Rights
Women's Rights in General
Minority Rights
Victims of Hate Crimes
Domestic Violence Outreach
Suicide Prevention
Victims of Sex Trade and Human Trafficking
Victims of Sexual Assault
Organizations that offer counselling and recovery services for trauma survivors.

Feel free to leave your picks in the comments, or on social media. Over the next two months I'll post links as well as messages of positivity that I find as I go along.

I won't, however, start posting any snowmen, jingle bells, Santas, or otherwise festive business until after both Thanksgiving and my birthday. Just because the dollar store thinks carols are appropriate while the Texas temperatures are in the eighties, doesn't mean I do. Pumpkin pie deserves its day in the sun, dammit!

Monday, October 24, 2016

It's Here! Pumpkins! Candy Corn! Free & Discounted Books!

It's that time again! 

I know! I can hardly believe it myself!

SupportIndieAuthors is once again having a spooky Halloween party and this one is even bigger and better than last year. 

The event begins on Friday, October 28th and runs through Monday, October 31st (that's Halloween!!!)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Owning It

As I've discussed in previous posts, I have a little issue I like to call summer brain. This year has been particularly difficult in that I ended up scrapping two projects because my brain didn't want to attempt to make sense of them while the rest of me was melting under the Texas sun. I even made a post here, talking about my last attempt to write something that would steer me back in the direction of serious author and well, about two dys after I wrote that blog, I had a flash of inspiration.

Two months later, I have a book. And like the last six items I've written, it may be of the sci-fi/fantasy variety, but it is firmly planted in the humor category as well. Specifically, satire.

Shameless Cover Plug

Naturally, as I started writing what I had hoped was a one off summer brain tale of a second banana to a supervillain, ideas began to pop into my head for a second and third book, with the possibility of many more to come. This... this would not do. I'm an author, not a humorist!

I am  humorist. And apparently, kind of a rarity in the field. While  I want to be taken seriously, I realize that continuing to satirize the genres I so love doesn't just come easy to me, but is something I should be proud of. You see, there aren't many women in this field.

Sure, there are female humorists. But you've probably heard of the ones who came from a standup or television career, or the anecdotal humorists like Erma Bombeck who wrote slice of life humor. And now, there are more and more quirky paranormal and mystery writers who add a touch of humor to their writing.

But the big names in satirical fantasy and sci-fi circles are Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Robert Asprin. Of course, those guys were the big names. You know me, so you know I'm a reader of Indie books. There are tons of wonderful bits of genre satire out there written by some great guys. But I have to point out the scarcity of women's names in these lists. This has to change.

I can't possibly be the only woman writing genre satire. There must be others and if there are, I want to hear about them. This can't be allowed to be a boy's club the way sci-fi was for so long and dammit, I am way too small time to be a pioneer!

So please, if you've heard of any fantastic and funny women who write satirical, dark, or quirky humorous literature in the sci-fi, fantasy, speculative, dystopian, or horror genres, please, comment with their name so that I may check them out.

Now, I will admit, once I have A Shot at the Big Time released in October, I will be using the dreary winter months to put myself back in the mood for sci-fi thrillers and space adventures, but I am owning my role as a genre humorist. Expect me to bring the funny whenever I can.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Crazy Sale!

I've got things to say. At some point, I promise, I will use this blog to sound off about something insightful. In fact, I've been meaning to post something here about owning up to the type of author I am, but alas,today is not that day. Today, I am announcing a sale:

Are you ready for this?

For three days, starting on Friday, September 16th, I will be offering the Kindle edition box set of my romantic sci-fi action and adventure series, The Eyes of The Sun at the crazy low price of 99¢.

This deal will be a Kindle Countdown sale, which means it is only valid in the US and UK markets.

Following the three day sale, the price will go up to $2.99 and then $4.99 before reverting back to the regular price of $6.99
(The UK price will only go up once to £2.99 before reverting to regular price).

Visit:  to grab your copy!

This is not a sale I plan to hold very often, if ever again,so take advantage while you can!