Tag Archives: Djuna Shellam

Let’s Get Physical! The Em Suite Now In Paperback

Get Physical!

Let’s get physical! Going old school…After a long process, Magnhild Press is happy to announce that three of our current titles are now available in paperback.

After a long process, we’re happy to announce that three of our current titles are now available in paperback. So many of our readers have either rejected, or avoided the digital experience of reading books altogether. Simply, they want the physical book in their hands. They want the smell of the ink on the paper,Let's Get Physical! the ability to flip easily back and forth through pages. They don’t want to worry whether their book battery is charged or not, and so on.

At Magnhild Press, we often thought ebooks were the way to go—the way of the future. For a long time, we considered only offering ebooks because of the myriad advantages of electronic media. Among many reasons, the electronic publishing process is much more immediate and allows the reader to get her or his eyes on it within seconds after buying it. Someone with tricky eyes can easily magnify the text size to their own comfort level, lighting conditions are quickly modified given the current environment; and if space is an issue, how much physical space does an ebook actually take? None.

As time passed, however, we found that many of our potential readers were disappointed we were only offering digital titles. It was a great concern, not just because we were missing out, but because they were missing out. We found that unacceptable. So, with the wonderfully nostalgic Olivia Newton-John tune “Let’s Get Physical” in mind, we decided to go old school and take on the task of publishing our titles in paperback form.

Admittedly, there is something incredibly alluring about holding a physical book in one’s hands that cannot be compared. Turning physical pages, while the faintest hint of printers’ ink tickles your nose, awakening your olfactory system, is incomparable to the cold, unfeeling “page turn” experienced on a Nook, Kindle, iPad, or other digital contraption.

So yes, let’s get physical and add another title, or three, to the bookshelf, where, on dusting days, you will be reminded of the interesting, fabulous, or heartbreaking journey you took; of the laughter and tears you spilled, or whatever emotion you experienced when you read them. Get yours HERE!

Writer In A New Place — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 25

Writer In A New Place

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 25

Moving to a new place for the normal person includes a lot of new experiences. For a writer in a new place, new experiewriter in a new placences are actually fodder for stories. That’s how I see it for myself, anyway. Though I’m still in the moving process, I’m hanging out in the general region where I’ll be putting down my roots, and it is just chockfull of information I feel confident I’ll use in upcoming stories. I hope so, anyway.

In some ways, having moved from an entirely different climate with what can only be described as contrasting terrain, I am seriously experiencing sensory overload. It’s wonderful, but I’m beginning to feel as if I should start taking notes because I’m afraid I’m going to forget my first impressions as everything becomes “everyday” to me.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in sort of a limbo state while I await the availabilty of my home. Living out of a suitcase is not my favorite thing. I thought I’d be able to write, write, write, but it’s not happening. Partly because I’m staying with my family who have their own schedules and a lot going on, so it’s difficult to do “my thing” which is hide myself away and write in my own little world. I’m here with them and I want to hang with them, so writing and making videos is getting preempted.



Oftentimes, if something must get done, I choose my video blog episodes instead of my writing. Not good. So… after pondering the whole situation for a minute (doesn’t take long to choose writing over videos) I’ve decided to put The Write OWL on hiatus. At least until I can get myself moved into my new home and make some progress on Dot in the Weeds. I’m thinking I will resume The Write OWL in September, or October by the latest. Until then, here’s a link to my YouTube channel. I’ll also be working on my blog to make my videos a little bit easier to access.

Right now I’m a writer in a new place, but next month I’ll be a writer in a different new place. So maybe I should start jotting down some notes about this place, eh?

I’ll continue blogging, but sans video. Thank you for visiting my blog.

 

The Write OWL

Independence of Self-Publishing — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 24

The Independence of Self-Publishing

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 24

independence of self-publishingTo be sure, there is and probably always will be a certain controversy regarding the independence of self-publishing. The controversy itself is fluid and changes with the ages. Back in the beginning days of publishing, there seemed to be a lot of self-publishing going on, though it was generally the rich doing the publishing because it was a costly enterprise.

In time, the big dogs took over the industry and anyone who sought the independence of self-publishing was mocked and ridiculed as a vanity publisher. Ah, some mocking was well-deserved, I’m sure; but, other writers were the subject of industry disdain simply because they did not agree with the rejections they received from publishing houses, and chose self-determination instead.

For me, it always felt like I was asking permission to oh please, powerful strangers, let me be a writer. As soon as self-publishing became an electronic affair, I was all in—and I never looked back. It’s a known fact that I am somewhat of a rebellious sort. Of course, the big house royalty advances are always a nice dream, but that’s what it is for a vast majority of writers—a dream. Getting published by a big publishing house is like winning the lottery. Maybe the odds are even worse. I don’t know. But for the amount of energy put into trying to get someone else to publish me, I’ve opted to put that energy into self-publishing.

While there is a lot to be said for the independence of self-publishing, there is a downside. It’s not for everyone. It’s a lot of work, for not usually a lot of money. It’s not why I chose to be in control of my own work. Sure, I’ve made mistakes along the way, learning how this old, newish, industry works, but each mistake or stumble, I believe, has been an invaluable learning process. Every misstep along the way just makes me stronger and wiser.

As with everything, there is always a price to pay in one form or another. If a big house publishes you, you relinquish a lot of your creative control and input. If the book fails, it could be because it wasn’t a good book in the first place; or, it could be because the editor messed with your story a bit too much, or the marketing was lacking, or… lots of reasons that perhaps you had no hand in—whether you wanted to or not. And then… your once bright future does not look so bright. A failed book. Bad. Trying to get your first book published was difficult. Trying to get your second after the first one “failed?” Closer to impossible.



The flip side of the coin is that the independence of self-publishing also means if your book “fails,” it’s all on you, baby. And it’s up to you to decide what went wrong—all while trying to write your next book, while trying to edit or format another, and while also trying to market another. It’s all on you, but… you have complete control of your projects, your timetable, covers, editors, etc. And if it’s a success? It’s also all you.

Me? I love writing. I love sharing my stories. If I make some coin in the process? Fantastic. If not, at least I’m in charge of my art and the only people I have breathing down my back are my fans who can’t wait for my next story. No matter what, I’ll take the independence of self-publishing over “getting” published every day of the week.

scrivener writing process

My Scrivener Writing Process — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 23

Scrivener Writing Process

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 23

In this 23rd Wednesday episode of Djuna Shellam The Write OWL, I talk about my “Scrivener Writing Process” which is strongly affected by my adoption of Scrivener as my primary writing tool.

As I mention in the video, I don’t remember how I stumbled onto it, but I know I was extremely frustrated by the clunkiness of Word and Pages; but more than that, I was beyond frustrated by the lack of seemless conversion to epub and mobi files using Word and/or Pages.

As a publisher who handles most of the production aspects of my writing, it is imperative that I be able to do most of the production tasks myself. Using Word and Pages was a nightmare. Time consuming and, frankly, unprofessional. Somehow, in searching for a conversion program, I found Scrivener and my writing and publishing life was forever changed.

Producing beautiful mobi or epub files is now a snap, but that’s really a super bonus feature. The real joy of my newfound Scrivener Writing Process is that the entire process of writing is so easy. Yes, there was a learning curve, but what’s so cool about Scrivener is that YouTube is awash with great tutorials from Scrivener and other enthusiasts. There is nothing you can’t find on YouTube if you need help.

Usually, I find it annoying to have to sit and go through tutorials, but with Scrivener, I’m happy to do it because the results I gain are so spectacular, it’s well worth the time.




The best part about my Scrivener Writing Process is that it works with my natural writing style. It also works the way my brain works, and that’s not easy to find.

My first two novels, The Incredible Transformations of Alice Hollywood and Mackenna on the Edge were written with Pages, but when I ran into walls when trying to convert the documents to epub or mobi formats, I reformatted them to Scrivener. It was a laborious process, but well worth it. Prairie Fire was written beginning to end on Scrivener in a third of the time each of the others took to write. Bottom line? My Scrivener writing process rocks.

 

The Write OWL

Finding Story Ideas

Finding Story Ideas

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 22

finding story ideasFinding story ideas can be perhaps the most difficult task of a writer. Sometimes. For me, fortunately, finding story ideas is the least of my struggles as a writer. Finding the time and that perfect sweet spot is my biggest struggle.

However, even in finding story ideas, my original plans are usually vetoed by my bossy and always right “Muse.” No matter how great I might think a story idea might be, she’ll come along and make it better. I love her.

But, without finding story ideas in the first place, she won’t come to work. I have to do the ground work first. So how do I do that? Well, often, ideas come from my life; rather, my observance of life around me. It might be a news report, a scene in a movie, a story someone has told me, something I’ve overheard in line at the grocery store, a story from my grandmother, or… you get the idea.




Finding story ideas, though, is the very first step of my writing. I’ve been writing a series for many years, so for me, new story ideas are always considered as to how they can be woven into my series. Sometimes, however, I’ll come up with an idea that I know won’t fit into the series and it will go onto the “after the series” pile of ideas. It’s a big pile. I have no idea what will become of those ideas once I begin work on them. Isn’t that exciting?

My current series, The Em Suite, began with an idea that bears little resemblance to what the series is now. Even the third book in the series, Prairie Fire, was supposed to be something entirely different, but when I began writing, my Muse stepped in and guided me to a much better story.

I think the point to finding story ideas is to just start with something, anything, and let the magic of the writing process guide you. I don’t remember offhand who this “quote” is from, but the writer said, essentially, until you actually sit down and start writing, your muse won’t take you seriously and won’t show up to work. From a personal standpoint, I know this is 1000% true.

I have a vlog episode planned on the muse concept, so I’ll leave the subject for now. The bottom line to writing, whether a muse is a factor or not, is that finding story ideas is paramount. How each writer does that is a learning process all its own. My goal with sharing my process is that perhaps I can help another writer solve a problem or get a new idea somewhere along the way.

The Write OWL

Insights From The Road — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 21

Insights From the Road

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 21

Insights from the roadIn the 21st episode of Djuna Shellam The Write OWL, I thought I’d share some insights from the road and my relocation experience. I think moving should be the first three to ten most stressful life events on the stress list. You know, the list that includes death, loss of job, etc.

While I’ve been dreaming of and plotting this move for nearly half my life, maybe more, it hasn’t made the overall experience less traumatic or stressful. Between preparing my house to sell, the marketing of it, the selling, endless packing, and then moving, it’s a gnarly process. And it’s not finished yet. While I have arrived at my destination, I’ve yet to find a place to live, so I’m living somewhat of a nomad life, with all of my earthly possessions locked in storage. I’m generally a homebody, an earth sign, so my version homelessness just adds to the trauma.

There’s also the emotional roller coaster to consider. For me, next to having children, which I forgot to do, owning my own home was tantamount to adulthood status. It took me until the age of 42 to achieve that milestone. I’m a late bloomer. Not owning a home is a choice I’ve made for the moment, but it’s difficult to wrap my brain around that concept after having spent a lifetime of convincing myself that not owning a home is not an option. Then there are the monumental life events that happened in my house—the good, the bad and the ugly—a house that is now someone else’s. Some memories I’m happy, no, thrilled, to leave behind. Others… well, I think it will be a long, long time before I can accept that I will never ever again have access to where they were made. Many challenges, indeed.

However, ever since I’ve embraced the writer in me, I now see life’s challenges as potential fodder for my stories. Anything that’s difficult, interesting, new, or just plain awful, I now tuck away for future reference. Rather than allowing negative and terrible experiences to get me down, I think of the potential storylines or plot twists I can catalogue along with my insights from the road to use for future writings. Honestly, if not for my writer’s perspective, I’m convinced I would have gone mad many years ago.

One plus about the move was that I was fortunate to meet and become friends with a U-Haul employee who, when I realized I was too tired and stressed to drive the truck myself as planned, so kindly offered to drive the ginormous 26′ truck for me. It was kismet that we met, and a trip that had the makings of an absolute disaster ended up being probably the most fun roadtrip I’ve ever taken. I cannot remember a time when I’ve laughed so hard for almost two days straight. Yes, it’s true, it is something I don’t think I ever want to do again, but if not for U-Haul Amy—her humor, her thoughtfulness, her calm in every terrible situation, and her super driving skills—who knows where I’d be right this very moment. I shudder to think. I think the best insight from the road I can give is to listen to the voice in your head in times of stress. If it says to you, “You may not be able to do this safely,” you should listen and accept help from good samaratins. Don’t be a hero. Dead heroes are, well… dead.




So this part of my journey is finished, but I will still be without my own home for another six weeks. Thankfully, I have loving family members who are willing to house me and my little dog in the interim. I think they might be a little insane, but still I’m grateful. While I wait, my plan is to write, write, write. Dot in the Weeds needs my undivided attention and I shall give it forthwith.

I hope my insights from the road were helpful. Check out my Amazon.com author page HERE.

The Write OWL

Prairie Fire —DJuna Shellam The Write OWL— Episode 20

Prairie Fire

DJuna Shellam The Write OWL— Episode 20

In Episode 20, Prairie Fire, I talk about how Praire Fire, the book and the character, came to be named, and discuss a little about her role in the series, as well as her personality.

Prairie FireAs with most of my characters, Praire Fire somewhat appeared out of nowhere. In fact, she took the place of another character I thought would fill that role that I conjured many, many years ago. Sometimes, for me, I make plans for a story, but then when I start writing the story, it has other ideas. Yes, the story has its own ideas about how things should go. Sometimes I feel as if I’m more of a stenographer taking dictation from my master—I mean, my Muse—than a writer.

In the end, as ever, I’m completely happy with the appearance of Praire Fire. She has turned out to be a fun character to write and get to know. She can be extremely lovable; yet, she can also be absolutely infuriating. But isn’t that true with most people? She’s definitely not one-dimensional, and when Prairie Fire falls in love, it’s a crash landing for sure.

What’s a bit funny for me is that I always start out with the desire to write the perfect character, meaning the perfect “one” for me. Why not, right? I mean, being a writer is like ordering at Burger King—I get to have it my way. But, alas, it never quite works out that way. I seem to end up writing characters I wouldn’t date if you paid me. I wonder why that is? I suppose it would be worth a trip or two to a shrink, but you know what happens to a “trip or two,” when it comes to shrinks, don’t you? That’s right, one or two trips turn into a year or two of analysis, and before you know it, it’s been twenty years and you still don’t know anything—and your shrink now owns a yacht.



Check out The Em Suite Series at Amazon.com. Best read in order from The Incredible Transformations of Alice Hollywood, Book One, to Mackenna on the Edge, Book Two; and finally, (at least until Book Four is finished and published) Prairie Fire, Book Three.

SPECIAL NOTE: As I am in the final throes of my big move, it is highly doubtful I’ll release an episode this Sunday or next Wednesday as I’ll be traveling. I might do something off-the-wall if I can, but once I get to where I’m going, I should be back to releasing two episodes a week.

The Write OWL

Moving Part 2 — DJuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 19

Moving Part 2

DJuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 19

This week’s Episode 19, Moving Part 2, is a little different from the episodes previous, as it is my first “Driving With Djuna” installment. Yes, I love to drive my little car, so I thought I’d make some episodes while driving. Why not? Shake it up a bit, eh?moving part 2

I’m continuing on this week with the theme of moving, only because it’s all I’m doing. Since last Wednesday, I’ve been packing, packing, packing; yet, I look around and nothing seems to have changed. I expect that any moment now, I’ll look up and realize I’m done. Right?

Meanwhile, I fantasize about completing my writing projects. I imagine what Dot’s going to do once Em, Eve, Prairie and Liam arrive at her home in Palm Springs. Oh, you haven’t gotten that far yet? That’s alright, because that’s all I plan to give you in regard to Dot in the Weeds.

I’ve also been mulling over “my,” that is, the Djuna Shellam, official autobiography. I wonder how much I should tell about Djuna’s life. There are some dicey bits, so you know, I don’t want to get her in trouble in the process of sharing her most extraordinary “life.”

Meanwhile, I toil with packing; making sure everything that can fit into a box ends up in a box. And those things that don’t fit into a box? Well, I have to make sure they don’t get damaged in the moving process. It’s tedious. I’ve never been one to handle tedium very well, and this moving project is testing every little bit of my resolve to move. But move I shall. I can’t turn back now. My house is, for all intents and purposes, no longer mine. Technically it is, but to cancel the sale now would be disastrous. And anyway, why would I? I’m toiling, poorly, I might add, in 115ºF heat with summer right around the corner. I’m convinced I live on the Sun.




Well, while I’m preparing to hit the road with all of my belongings in tow, heading for the Great Northwest, check out The Em Suite if you haven’t yet. Let me know in the comments section what you think will happen in Dot in the Weeds. Who knows—you might be right!

Moving—Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 18

Moving — Part One

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 18

In this week’s episodes, Moving—Part One, I’m breaking with protocol a bit in order to accommodate my weariness. As you will learn, in both episodes and in this blog, I am in the process of moving. It’s a move of considerable distance, so it requires careful packing (I liken it to preparing to move to the Moon), which is tedious and time-consuming.

Moving, as I’ve said on many occasions, is not my friend. I’ve moved quite a bit in my lifetime, but haven’t done so (for myself, at any rate), in nearly fifteen years. And there’s a reason for that. Moving sucks, especially when it’s just you doing it. And it’s keeping me from progressing on my writing. Yeah, yeah, I might be whining a little.

While I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to move, that I was finally able to sell my house and put a bit of change into my pocket, so-to-speak, it’s an all-encompassing endeavor that seems as if it’s never-ending. Writing my blog is really the only writing I’ve been able to do. It’s frustrating. You see, I don’t mind at all if I don’t write when I don’t have anything pressing to write. When a story isn’t pounding on the door demanding to get out. I’m not that writer that freaks out over writers’ block. Writers’ block, what’s that? No, periods of writing dormancy works just fine for me. But when I do have something to write, that I want to write, then it’s frustrating when I can’t.




So this week, instead of producing a blog and a video episode each for Sunday and Wednesday, I’ve decided to moosh the two days together into one. I’ll probably do that for the next few weeks. I need to finish up packing my belongings, then I have to transport them far away, and then… I’ll be a bit of a nomad for a while until I find just the right spot on which to land. I’m hoping to get back to a two-a-week schedule by then, which will be the last half of June. Fingers crossed, eh?

If you haven’t done so already, please check out The Em Suite Series if you are looking for something good to read. Please note, when I say “good,” that’s just my opinion. You’re the ultimate judge on that.

 

The Write OWL

Dot Baverstock—Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 17

Dot Baverstock

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 17

Dot Baverstock, the much beloved character in The Em Suite Series, is the subject of discussion in the Wednesday episode of Djuna Shellam The Write OWL.

As mentioned before, Dot Baverstock was a walk on character in Book One of the series, The Incredible Transformations of Alice Hollywood. Meaning, I didn’t plan her, and until her first words, “Airman!” I didn’t know she was even in the vicinity of my lead character, Alice. From that moment, I hate to admit, Dot Baverstock has essentially written herself. I am just along for the dictation.




I’ve often been asked, “Who would play Dot in the movie?” First I ask, “What movie!?!” But seriously, I’ve long thought Allison Janney would play Dot very nicely. One time I mentioned Janney as Dot to a reader and she was adamant, “NO!” Yikes. All I can say is, that’s who’s in my head when I’m writing Dot, rather, when I’m typing Dot’s words. Ha!

What’s interesting to me is that I have always loved Dot Baverstock, but I never expected many of my readers to feel the same way, if not more so. It was so surprising to me when Alice Hollywood first came out, when I would ask, “Who was your favorite?” I half expected Alice, Em or Mitch; but universally it was, “Dot. Love Dot!” Wow. Who knew?

I really wish I could take complete and total credit for Dot Baverstock, because she is so beloved, but I just can’t. I didn’t plan her. She forced her way into my story. Even in Mackenna on the Edge, Dot finagled her way in, and actually set up a prominent location and storyline in Prairie Fire. Dot Baverstock is a force of nature, and gets her way with me every time.

Dot is that person I think we’d all like to have in our lives when we need a loyal, strong, clear-headed, loving and fearless advocate. She’s the friend, and even the mom when there’s not one nearby, you want in your corner. I want her in mine, anyway. I love her and I hope, if you haven’t “met” her yet, that when you do, you will love her as much as I do.

You can “meet” Dot in any of the current installments of The Em Suite: Books One through Three HERE.