But Shannon is also a fiction writer! (A feat I'm trying to balance, myself). I asked Shannon if she'd share some of her writing quirks and advice with my blog readers and I'm thrilled she said yes! Without further ado, here's Shannon:
1. I read all my dialogue aloud with the corresponding accents. Normally that’s not a bad thing, but I have occasional bouts of “wandering mind” and the folks in line with me at Walmart get a taste of what’s going on in my head. Makes for some interesting looks. I’ve taken to wearing my Bluetooth whenever I’m out in public so at least it looks like I’m talking to someone other than myself.
2. There must be rain. I love rainy days, overcast and stormy. If there’s no rain, I pipe it in. Yes, Virginia – there’s an app for that. If I’m editing, I keep the TV on low in the background. I usually put the “movie du jour” on and keep track of how long I’ve been working by how many times I’ve restarted it. Right now, Wreck It Ralph is on the second showing of the night. If I’m actually writing, it’s rain only. Anything else is distracting. I prefer writing at night to day.
3. I listen to music to help me get in the mood – during the writing of The Celtic Knot: Suit of Cups and Rogue on the Rollaway, I listened to a lot of Loreena McKennitt and Gaelic Storm. For The Gypsy Ribbon: Suit of Wands, it was all Def Leppard, Winger, Bon Jovi and 80s hair bands. I’m now working on The French Twist: Suit of Swords and I’m listening to a lot of…you guessed it…country music. *cue evil laugh*
4. I write books on Tarot in addition to paranormal romance, but my worlds collide from time to time. You may have noticed a pattern in the romances…it’s a different type of discipline writing nonfiction, but no less demanding. It may be a left/right brain thing. Either way, working on Tarot requires Lord of the Rings or something equally epic in the background.
5. I carry a notebook with me almost everywhere to jot things down. If I find a phrase I like in a book, I write it down. Witty lines, snappy comebacks, cool words that I don’t normally use…anything that might be useful later goes into the book. That serves two purposes – it commits to memory what I like and provides a jumpstart if I get stuck later. When I have a case of “whitescreenitis” I just flip open the book and look for something that fits.
6. I find I write longer and better with a cat on my lap. There’s so much guilt involved with disturbing a snoring cat, I will sit until my legs go numb before I’ll move her.
Advice for writers: I never participated in critique groups where people you don’t know tell you how good/bad your work is, so I can’t really tell you how effective that is. I’m astonished at the number of books that tell you how to write. Hell, if I read even a third of those I wouldn’t have time to write at all. Reading books on how to write is like reading books on how to fish or bowl – the only way you’re going to learn to do either is by doing it.
That being said, I have two books that I do highly recommend – Stephen King’s On Writing (one of the best books ever written – ought to be required reading, so it should) and The Writer’s Little Helper by James V. Smith Jr.
And I just have to share my favorite writing tip ever. I struggled with active vs. passive voice until I read this: If you can insert “by/from zombies” after the verb, it is passive voice:
She was running (from zombies) = passive voice
Zombies chased (from zombies) her = active voice
(Thanks to Professor Rebecca Johnson for this great tip.)
Overall I love the process and even the quirks make it more interesting. I’m not quite at the “having to wear my lucky socks to create” stage, but I suspect it’s not far off. I’ve got the perfect pair all picked out.
About Shannon: In between writing and daydreaming about sexy Celts, Shannon MacLeod lives a life of servitude to two spoiled cats. She enjoys pondering the mysteries of Tarot, rainy days, good music, lively craic and spending long hours staring at her beloved ocean. An avid wearer of dangerously high heels, she watches Lord of the Rings more than any sane person should and can, in fact, reenact entire battle scenes using interpretive dance. Shannon is the author of two paranormal romances from Lyrical Press: The Celtic Knot: Suit of Cups (Arcana Love Volume 1), Rogue on the Rollaway (coming 10/01/13) and The Gypsy Ribbon: Suit of Wands (Arcana Love Volume 2, coming 2014).
Shannon is also a proud member of Romance Writers of America and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. Visit her online at ShannonMacLeod.com.