Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ancient City Christmas On Sale At!

Just received GREAT NEWS from that Amazon has selected my book to sell on their website! Not sure how it came about, but it's thrilling nonetheless! 

Check it out:

The shipping is MUCH cheaper than Lulu (and probably faster) though the book is a tad more expensive. PASS THE WORD ON!

I'm still editing "Ancient City Christmas" (now known as "I'll Be Home For Peacemas") and working on the as-yet untitled sequel. More on that soon, I promise.

Head to Amazon and pick up a copy today!

Later days,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On The Road Again

Vacation. All I ever wanted.

First thing tomorrow morning I'm headed out with my family for a weeklong trip to north Georgia. Among other exhilerating items on the agenda for this vacation are: strolling around the vacant lot to which all of my parents' retirement dreams are presently attached, board games, a trip to the aquarium in Chattanooga, lots of Wii-playing (we're not totally roughing it), and eating at some place called The Barn Door that my parents swear is really good.

Most notably absent from the list of things to do up there, however, is anything to do with the internet. I'm a little scared about being without it for seven days, but at the same time I feel it's probably for the best. Sometimes you just need to be shut off from the world for a little while (though I will miss Ryan Seacrest's twittering the most...)

The best part of being technologically disconnected from the world is that I won't have anymore excuses or distractions keeping me from doing one of the four things I love the most in this world: reading, writing, listening to music, and of course, sleeping.

To that end, I've cued up a ton of new tunes on the ole iPod and packed a separate bag full of books. And because I'm in such a sharing mood, I'm going to let you in on what jams and reads I'll be enjoying over the next seven days while you're stucking doing whatever it is that you do.


"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult: I've read about half-dozen of her books to date and though I've loved some more than others, I've yet to come across a bad one. This is one of her first best sellers and I'm really looking forward to reading it. I've picked it up a few times in the store but always wound up putting it back until today, when boisterous ladies came up beside me in the book section at Target and started raving about it. When I asked one of them if it was worth reading, she actually got choked up and was almost unable to form the words to describe how amazing it was. After that, how I could I *not* read it?

The Flynn Brothers Trilogy ("Deadly Night", "Deadly Harvest", and "Deadly Gift") by Heather Graham: My friend Jaime loaned these three to me and I'm about fifty pages into "Deadly Night." So far it's great--not something I would usually read, but I'm enjoying the characters and the setting at an old plantation house in New Orleans. 


"Keep Coming Back" - Marc Broussard: I'm a HUGE fan of Marc's bayou-blues style and I'm thrilled that he's got a new album (okay, relatively new, I've been preoccupied with Dave Barnes and Jason Mraz for the last few months) that's more like his first one, "Carencro." I've previewed a few of the tracks and I know I'm going to love this return to his original stuff after his cover album "S.O.S." which was great, but didn't satiate my craving for new music from him.

"OK Now" - Jon McLaughlin: I absolutely loved McLaughlin's debut and from the snippets of his newest album I've heard, I know I'm going to love this one too. Maybe there will be another song to knock "Beautiful Disaster" from the top spot on my iPod...

"One Cell in the Sea" - A Fine Frenzy: This is one of the MANY great artists my friend Julie has passed my way. In fact, the  majority of the new tunes I've got on my docket for this trip are recommendations from her, which means I know they're all going to be great. She brought me Adele, Dave Barnes, and Matt Nathanson so I know she's got a ear for good music. 

"All I Ever Wanted" - Kelly Clarkson: Okay, this is my guilty pleasure music for the month. I confess I absolutely CANNOT stop listening to this CD. I've had it in my car the last week and I've already worn out the title track and of course, "My Life Would Suck Without You." I can see myself bobbing my head to this way into the summer months. 

Also on the list: Ben Kweller's debut, "We Were Here" - Joshua Radin, "Spirit" - Leona Lewis (I know I'm WAY beyond on the times on this one), "On a Clear Night" - Missy Higgins, and "Happenstance" - Rachael Yamagata. Plus I'm still listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Working on a Dream" and The Fray's self-titled follow-up and Matt Nathanson's "Some Mad Hope."

When all else fails, I've got Sports Night (the complete series), Boondock Saints, The Birdcage, Steel Magnolias, my latest West Wing disc from Netflix (Season 6: Disc 5), and the two newest episodes of Lost that I spent ALL DAY downloading (thanks iTunes).

Well, I bid you all a fond farewell and best wishes for a great week! I'll catch you up on the hilarious details of my family's misadventures as soon as I get back.

Later days,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Peacemas Doctrine

After much anticipation, I'm proud to present the official Peacemas Doctrine with an exclusive pre-amble from Bailey Hamilton herself. Read on and enjoy! :-)

The Peacemas Doctrine

Although I can’t take credit for the creation of Peacemas, I am humbled and proud to be associated (by law) with the holiday’s original visionary--my stepmother, Olivia Flowers. Throughout the course of her life, Olivia’s antiquated flower-child mind has set forth a plethora of ideas with intentions of promoting world harmony in some form or fashion. However, most of those ideas fell short of global enlightenment and in several cases  landed Olivia and several of her supporters (both genuine and coerced volunteers) in jail.

Peacemas, however, could very well be the crowning achievement of my stepmother’s lifelong campaign (which is quite surprising, given Olivia’s history of aggression toward organized religions of all kinds--she is, lest we forget, the same person who once set fire to a small Christmas tree that my twin brother and I had harvested from a neighbor’s yard and adorned with handmade paper ornaments one year). 

But that was the old, more aggressive Olivia who existed before her seven-year African sabbatical with her sister Oleander in the Peace Corps. She returned a more docile woman, though still motivated by the same peace and harmony agenda she obtained during her stay in a commune as a young child. 

(She also returned with a rather large souvenir, more commonly known as my adopted African brother, Ukembe (oo-kem-bay), but that’s another story.)

At any rate, when Olivia returned from her trip just a few weeks before Christmas, we weren’t sure what to expect out of her. So the announcement of a newly proclaimed holiday was absorbed with much trepidation and a tiny bit of intrigue amongst my siblings and I. For all we knew, this holiday could include some sort of ritualistic dancing, unpalatable cuisine, and of course, the obligatory human sacrifice. 

Knowing Olivia as we do, none of those things would have been unexpected.

We were pleasantly surprised then, when she revealed her plans for a week-long celebration that would tie together the best traditions of Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza along with a few new traditions unique to Peacemas itself.

To help us visualize and buy into her vision of Peacemas, Olivia created a document called the Peacemas Doctrine--seven simple guidelines (Olivia doesn’t like to use the term “rules”)  for the celebration of Peacemas. 

So without further ado, I present to you, the Peacemas Doctrine:

(1) Peacemas is a non-religiously affiliated holiday that will begin each year on December 18th, exactly seven (7) days prior to Christmas Day (which will heretofore be known as Peacemas Day with Peacemas Eve falling, of course, on the night before). The purpose of this holiday is to move the world toward a peaceful union through knowledge, compassion, and unity. (And where appropriate, humor.)

(2) On the first day of Peacemas Week, participants will erect a Peacemas tree inside their dwelling. Although the official tree of Peacemas will be the palm (a symbol in multiple religions of peace and victory) other tree types may be substituted where palm trees are not available. This tree is to be decorated ONLY with ornaments created from recycled materials and ONLY with LED or other energy-efficient lights.

(3) All families celebrating Peacemas will also have a seven-pronged candelabra known as the Flames of Peace. A new candle will be lit each of the seven nights of Peacemas, completing the Flames of Peace on Peacemas Eve. 

(Please note: So as to avoid a potent ional Peacemas tragedy, the Flames of Peace are to be extinguished each night after the Peacemas festivities and re-lit the following night as festivities are resumed.)

(4) Each of the seven nights prior to Peacemas Day will focus on one of the seven continents--going in alphabetical order with the exception of the continent that the participant lives on, which will always be celebrated last. For example, Peacemas participants in the U.S. would recognize Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, South America and North America in that order. 

(5) To honor each of the continents, participants will eat foods similar to what the natives eat (as supplies and stomachs will allow), write down ten (10) facts previously unknown about that continent, listen to and/or perform music indigenous to that region (except in the case of Antarctica--unless someone can produce adequate penguin songs), and select a charitable organization connected to something in that continent to receive a previously determined donation. 

(It is recommended that for the continent on which the participant resides, a contribution of time be considered over money [i.e. dishing out food at soup kitchen, visiting the patients in a nursing home, etc.].)

(6) Although the primary “gifts” of Peacemas are considered the charitable donations made to certain aid groups affiliated with each of the seven continents, additional gift-giving between family members is optional. It’s suggested that one family member be the designated gift-giver each night and should provide the rest of the family with a handmade gift related to the continent of the night. 

(7) ALL Peacemas activities are to be celebrated with ALL members of the household. Peacemas is not only about uniting the world, but about uniting families as well (even the crazy ones).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The World Keeps Spinning (With or Without Me)

**Credit to T-Pain for the blog title (terrible song, but terribly catchy).**

So did everyone enjoy celebrating my Irish homefolks' holiday, St. Patty's? Don't you feel like certain holidays--like St. Patrick's Day--should have a built in recovery day afterward that's also observed as a national holiday? I mean really, how are you supposed to give these occassions the attention and celebration they deserve when you have to get up and go to work the next day?

Fortunately, being a member of the Bitterly Unemployed as I am, I don't have that problem (being in the BU club does have its perks). I not only partied hardy for St. Patrick's Day, but for my best friend Toni's birthday yesterday and my mom's today. Gotta love two days in a row of good times with the people you love the most and good cake with the people you love for looking the other way when you grab a second piece.

I had a chance to check out the movie version of Greg Behrendt's "He's Just Not That Into You"yesterday. I was a little nervous since it got some shaky reviews (especially since it costs $8 to go to a matinee these days!), but it was pretty good. Definitely a movie that EVERY and I mean EVERY woman should see. I'm not saying it should be used as a dating bible or anything, but there were some excellent points that led Toni and I to contemplate how truly jaded (and slightly insane) the female gender is. Even if you think you aren't, trust me, you are. I'm going to pick up the book for sure.

Did anybody see American Idol this week? I admit, it's one of my guilty pleasures. I'm extremely disappointed that Alexis was sent home, of the five chicks in this year's Top 13, she was my favorite. Still, this season clearly belongs to the men folk. Danny, Matt, Anoop, Kris and Adam are incredibly talented and yet so diverse. It's a good think they've got some good, fresh talent on that show this year too because I've about had it with the cheesy BS they put us through every week. The Ford commercials and the petty fights between Paula and Simon kind of make me want to scoop my eyeballs out with a spork. Just saying...

Well, best wishes for the weekend, folks! I promise I'll have some news on "I'll Be Home for Peacemas" next week along with a possible teaser for a new short story I'm working on.

Later days!
- Shannon

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...

In a weak effort to make up for my lack of tangible work on my first novel, Ancient City Christmas, I've been cogitating (<=my word of the week, thanks to my uncle) on it almost constantly. Many of my thoughts have focused on the book's title, which served its purpose well during the book's first run in my hometown of St. Augustine last Christmas. 

However, now that I am looking for a more national audience and (hopefully) the attention of a major publishing house, I feel that the title needs a little spice. So, without further ado, I'm happy to announce that Ancient City Christmas will now be known as:

I'll Be Home for Peacemas

To go along with the new title, I'm adding a little more about Bailey's stepmother's made-up holiday in the book. Also, I plan to retool my marketing strategy so my readers can partake in some Peacemas festivities and rituals as well.

That's all for now folks but keep it tuned to the blog for more information!

Later days,

Monday, February 2, 2009

No News Could Be Good News...or Laziness

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since I updated the ole blog, but I have been working [somewhat] diligently on some matters related to "Ancient City Christmas."

Thanks to all of my amazing family and friends (plus a few strangers), I've been blessed enough to sell 60 copies of my book since Thanksgiving! Give yourself a big hug from me if you're one of those terrific folks who took an interest in my project--I really appreciate it!

My next order of business concerning this book is to make a good-faith effort to attain a literary agent. For Christmas, my mom gave me Jeff Herman's "Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents" which promises to be the best reference guide in the industry. Herman's advice and experience suggests that attracting a literary agent is [relatively] easier than trying to go straight to a publisher. 

Based on that, I've started to pour over the profiles of each and every literary agent listed in Herman's guide in search of folks who might be interested in my project. This is much easier said than done.

I know the title of my blog promises absolutely NO arithmetic, but even those of us who are not well-versed in the math realm can understand that when a literary agent tells you they reject 98% of what they recieve, the odds are not in your favor. 

Still, that's no reason to give up--and I have no plans to do that. I've identified about a dozen agents whom I'd like to contact as soon as I complete my final overhaul edit of "Ancient City Christmas." As I see it, I have nothing to lose. If no one is interested in taking on my project, I can continue to utilize the self-publishing route for this book and its sequel (tentatively titled "Kudzu Summer" and do out sometime in April, perhaps). 

So that's where things stand for the time being. Outside the writing world, I've just completed my final bit of graphic design work for Florida State (which is my excuse for not having done more with ACC since December) which has given me both the financial and mental freedom to get back to persuing my writing goals.

I hope the first month of 2009 has been good to you and that the next 11 will be better!

Later days,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ready or not, here comes Christmas...

It's hard to believe that Christmas is finally upon us. To me it always seems as though the first ten months of the year drag on for ages, but once you reach November 1st, the Earth steps up its rotation like it's trying to win a race. We spin through the holidays like spinning tops on the deck of a swaying ship and stumble forth into the New Year with the last crush of a brisk wave. It makes for eight weeks of chaos, but leaves decades of memories in its place.

For me, many of those memories have taken place inside the state of Alabama. My mom is a native of Wetumpka, Alabama (a tiny spec of a town just northeast of the state capital, Montgomery). Most of her family still lives there, and so it is that we've spent many a Christmas holiday nestled in the arms of our Dixie-dwelling relatives. In fact, I was six weeks old when I spent my very first holiday in Alabama in December of '84.

Tomorrow we'll be taking off for the first half of the trek and will arrive on Christmas Eve at The Nana's house (The as in The One and Only). Aunts, uncles, cousins and other extraneous members will pass through over the next few days and eventually my parents and I will make our way back home feeling like we were there too long and not long enough, at the same time.

This year (being a monetarily challenged, unemployed, recent college graduate) I decided to make my family members a DVD with a slide show of photos from our many shared Christmases in Alabama. I've shared a few of my favorite photos down below.

But in addition to sharing the holiday spirit with my family, I'm also going to be taking some notes during this year's Christmas voyage. I've recently decided to stage the sequel to "Ancient City Christmas" in Alabama. I hope to return to St. Augustine for the third and final book, but in the meantime I think my home-away-from-home would be an excellent place for Bailey Hamilton and her whacky family to gain some perspective and perhaps take a second chance on love...

Well I sincerely hope everyone has a wonderful holiday--whatever holiday it is that you celebrate. If I could just make a few recommendations for getting the most out of the holidays, I would suggest: (1) Hug at least one person you love with gusto; (2) Eat an extra serving your favorite holiday food (for me, that would be my mom's stuffing); and (3) When your whole family is gathered together, step outside and look at them through the front window--you'll be surprised what you can see from an outsider's perspective.

Later days,

That's me on the left (in the stripes) with (from left to right) my great-grandmother (MawMaw), and my cousins Stacy, Jennifer, Jessica, Sian, and Christopher.

Here's me again with my great-grandparents, MawMaw and Pop. When they were still around, we would gather at their house in the country with the whole extended family (The Nana has six brothers and sisters!).

I love this picture of my cousins Jessica and Christopher enjoying the best Christmas present you can ever give a child--the ability to use his or her own imagination.

This is from my second Christmas in Alabama. I'm the little tyke down in front in between my two grandmothers--my Grandma Grace (in the red dress) and The Nana. I wish I'd been old enough to appreciate how lucky I was to have them both with me at the holidays.

Here I am (already representing for Florida State at such a young age) with The Nana and my cousin Christopher. I'm not sure what we're doing, but it looks like we're having a blast.