Book Review

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I’m very excited to announce that I just got a GREAT March review for “Sheila, Quest for the Golden Sapphire”, my YA/Fantasy novel from midwestbookreview dot com. I’ve posted the link below if you want to check it. The first review was from Kirkus reviews last year. I feel so blessed and so thankful all the love. “Sheila” was a fun book to write, its got plenty of good story and action, and I know you’ll enjoy it. You should check it out at Amazon or B&N.

Fellow writers if you got a great book out there, shout it out, let’s us know about it.

http://www.midwestbookreview.com/cbw/mar_17.htm#Fantasy/SciFi

Prayer and Passion

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I think it is true you must love what you do, and do what you love. When reviewing successful artists, writers, people in general, I’ve found one common denominator—Passion! It seems cliché to say that, but without it, the energy to push forward when things are tough is absent.  Bradbury said you must be a madman/woman about your craft if is to work. The great poet Bohemian-Austrian, Ranier Rilke, said we must search inwardly to find our purpose. If one is to be a creative, writer of novels, short stories, plays or poems, he/she must ask in the deepest, darkest, personal hour of their day, Must I write? If the answer to this question comes back yes, then the writer must devote his entire life to that purpose.

The rejections come. They will come increasingly. To survive the storm is the goal. What the Bible calls a pruning or threshing. This is a concept that has cycled through my subconscious many times. The passion is like the gas in the second tank of the new solar powered cars. When the solar power has run dry, and the vehicle should normally stop, it switches to the gas engine, giving the vehicle energy to push forward through the tough time. Prayer and passion are the stabilizers.

These are things I speak to myself, trying to navigate the torrents of industry and society.  As a writer, no matter what level, we must continue to tell ourselves that we must never submit to exhaustion if this is truly your life’s passion. The struggle is real. But so is hope and victory and success and life.

Your writing is beautiful if you know that it is. If you don’t, then it is not. Dismiss rejection, but don’t forget it. Use it to thrust you forward, knowing what you Must do. Keep the passion and the prayer.

Godspeed in your art,

Shawn

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Great Week!

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GREAT WEEK!

The first thing I want to do is appreciate some people. When marketing a book it takes a lot of people (practically a little village) to assist in making it successful. The folks at Outskirts Press have been awesome. Especially the PMA that has been helping me with the Marketing strategy/Plan. Thank you Sonya!

But also, this week I had the opportunity to talk about my book on a podcast from Some ‘N Unique magazine. “Books, Jazz, Coffee and Smokes”. I want to thank F. Kenneth Taylor, the host of the show for bringing me into his home, on the air, and allowing me to talk about everything from my book Sheila, politics, writing and everything else that we could fit in. I want to thank the people who called in from listeners like- Author God Son to my high school classmate L.L. We had a great time talking about the book and even some of my old high school favorites. (Tupac–How long will they Mourn me!) Ha! I love it!

Check out my Facebook page below to catch up on the interview and learn more about it.

https://www.facebook.com/shawn.caldwell.144

 

I’ll admit that I don’t enjoy the marketing aspect of book publication as much as I love the actual writing. But I enjoy speaking with readers of the book and others about writing and the publishing process. Hands down its got to be one of the most rewarding parts of the process. Much LOVE to all my people on Facebook!

Next week I’ll be doing another interview on a show called the Price of Business. Its a Nationally Syndicated show in Houston with Host Kevin Price.

http://www.priceofbusiness.com.  http://www.business1110ktek.com  are the websites where I’ll be speaking between 930 and 10:00am Wednesday 10/27. Thanks so much for following and so much for all your support.

Until next time.

 

The Blocks of Writing

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Earlier today I found myself in a chance game of stack the blocks with my two-year old daughter. Not long after we began I quickly learned that there were no rules to this particular game. All colors, styles and shapes, so long as they stacked on top of the other, were fair game. She grabbed one pink two peg block and stacked it on top of a blue one peg block. And so on, until we effectively had constructed an unofficial, multi-colored, leaning tower of Pisa. My daughter sat looking at this monstrosity for several moments before she decided that was enough. She raised one hand and sent the swaggering tower to the ground.

“Come on daddy!” she said and we started again stacking the blocks in various different ways and styles. We started stacking them by color, then by style and constructed a stronger more aesthetic model.  After several moments, she swiped it and sent it crashing to the ground and over the floor. She grinned and we started the process again.

It suddenly occurred to me the lessons on writing and on life. To my daughter and to myself, the idea of building the blocks was fun and we were allowed to exercise our creativity. Each time the blocks were destroyed we would build them back with more fervor and brand new ideas. I have found similar process in writing.

The arbitrary stacking of the blocks allowed us to use our minds to create. Using, of course, the diverse styles and colors of our resources. Like writing. You sit down with a pen and a pad, or more likely in todays age, the white space on the computer screen or word processor and you begin to compose. You use whatever resources your mind can conjure. Whatever vibrant settings, styles and characterization that you want. A truly liberating experience.

Then there is the process of realizing that your first draft is not what it could be. So you rewrite it. It’s like a tiny failure. Like the failure in the construction of the blocks. Maybe failure is too harsh a word; let’s call it the edit. Each time you rewrite the draft you make corrections. This may not feel like it in the beginning but it is making your writing, there fore your story, better.

Building the blocks was simply a reciprocal process that we use in life all the time. When you’re a baby and your learning to walk, when you fall down you simply get up. It’s all learning. In writing it’s an education for the author. You learn new things each time you approach the work. I like to think of failures or edits as do-over’s. Maybe some will think my elaboration a little extreme. Blocks and life. But to me, that’s just what life is all about. That is what writing is all about. You fall/fail you get back up and start again. A new chance with new energy and a new set of blocks, if your lucky.

The next time you feel discouraged remember when you were little and had to stack the blocks and build something like myself and my daughter. Try to remember when you finally built that perfect structure out of those blocks. Would you have accomplished it if you had not tried over and over again? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know unless we get back out there again. Whatever the challenge in your life, keep stacking your blocks.

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Finally here!

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On April 15th there was a knock at the door. As I stumbled down the stairs and attempted to slide into my slippers, I heard the growl of a large truck trailing away. I had anticipated this day for a week. And when I got downstairs to the front door and peeked through the window I saw the rear of the large, brown UPS truck turning the corner on the next block.

My heart leapt and time seemed to almost screech to a halt as I frantically tried to open the door and check the front porch for what I hoped was there. And I as I stepped out onto the porch and saw the non-descript box sitting on the stoop, I was almost exploding with joy. I came back into the house , holding the box like lost  treasure, my wife was standing on the steps smiling.

“Is it here?” she said.

I nodded.  We shuffled back up the stairs to the bedroom. I lay the box on the floor and began tearing it open like a five year old on Christmas morning. …That is exactly what receiving the package felt like- a Christmas gift.

I opened the box and heaven gazed up at me.

It was amazing! My new book–Sheila, Quest for the Golden Sapphire had arrived. I was so excited I walked around with that damn book under my arm for the rest of the day. And probably the next one, too. It had been a long road to publication. Many things changed and halted because they just didn’t feel right. But now I can say that I have a book that I am proud and thankful for. The feeling is great and I, as always, have the utmost respect and consideration for anyone out there trying to write anything. But for me this is only one step in a long meandering road. Many more books to write and many more marketing efforts to ensure this book is out there for ALL to read.

This week I’ll be attending the Texas Librarians Association in Houston, Texas. If you’re in the area come by the table I’ll be there with other great authors from the Houston Writers Guild.  Until next time, happy writing and remember, have fun!

 

Also, if you would like to purchase a copy of Sheila, my Juvenile fantasy book, you can purchase it on my author website at http://www.outskirtspress.com/sheila. Or, you can also go directly to Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com to get it. Also, the ebook edition is available for $7.99 for a limited time. Thanks

UP COMING PUBLICATION!

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Hello ALL,

I’m extremely excited to announce that my new Juvenile YA/Fantasy novel is now in galley stages and is soon to be published by Outskirts Press. As soon as I get the publication date I will be sure to publish it here. The title: Sheila, Quest for the Golden Sapphire.

The self publishing pathway has been an extraordinary experience and I will be sure to post the positives and the pitfalls for anyone wanting to know of the experience. That’s all for now, stay tuned for more news.

As always, thanks for reading,

Shawn

Just Have Fun!

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The most important thing to remember as a fledgling(Let’s face it, none of us really like this word but its definitely what it feels like sometimes, right?) writer is that you are doing something that pleases you. I have good days and bad days. Ray Bradbury said if your unhappy when you write, it means your doing something wrong.???  Mr. Bradbury says, writing should be fun. He say’s Writers block is your brain telling you that it doesn’t like you anymore….Your talking about stuff it doesn’t want to talk about. (Me laughing). I am paraphrasing of course,  and I won’t even try to argue with the Master. But I will say this: I am stoked and excited when I am composing with all inhibitions laid down. I am giddy when I write something that is truly instinctive and intuitive. Something that boiled up spontaneously from my own stream of consciousness. Our own instincts  seem to be our best guide; real talk.

I remember writing a scene in my recent YA/Fantasy novel that came to me in this way–Instinctively. I edited the piece, cleaned it up and took it to my critique circle for feedback. It was a hit! We were in tears. I hadn’t realized just how funny this particular scene would be in front of an audience. But the fun for me was getting to say things in the writing that  we can’t normally say to each other. Or, during normal conversation. And if we do, it doesn’t carry the same heft as when interpreted through ones stream of consciousness. I suppose its one of those moments when you think of something funny and you laugh to yourself. Many times the thought is so funny its quite impossible to stop laughing. The mind and the imagination are a powerful thing, and I think writing is a way we can examine them and amuse ourselves and others along the way. Just have fun!

 

 

Rejection

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Let’s talk rejection. A subject I happen to be an authority on. (Trust me) I say that with gumption because facing rejection inevitably got me published. A while back, having completed a short story that I felt was, perhaps, ready for publication, I flipped through the Literary Marketplace and found the name of a journal that I thought would be a great fit for my thirty-five hundred word story.
Now, I must point out that I did exactly what most of the greats tell you not to do when actively shopping a manuscript. I did not fully read the journal. (Rinse Repeat) I did not fully read the journal. The journal, a small press, for which I was actively and fervently seeking publication.?
As writers there are certain things we must face about the writing. First, we must look ourselves in the eyes and tell it like it is. Particularly when we do bumble-headed stuff. Mine, obviously, was blindly shopping a magazine without fully knowing what they want. I had read some reviews of the magazine, and I had flipped through several of its pages and perused small editorials and glossy pictures that were there but that was it. However the biggest thing, and this was key, was that I didn’t read any of the stories that they had published.
Shame on me. I knew better! Even then, having been at it for a while and knowing that some e-zines, journals and otherwise change what they look for on weekly and sometimes monthly basis. Knowing that if they want a love story and you send them fantasy or science fiction, your work will be rejected. Why would I still not familiarize myself with the magazines requirements prior to submission?
The answer–mine anyway, is impatience. The infamous haste to get the story out. I had been working on that story for almost a year, on and off, and I felt like–hey, what the hell! Good writing is good writing, right?
Yes it is. But not every editor and publisher is looking for your particular story at that time. Your story could be the greatest thing since the Grapes of Wrath. Don’t matter if they aren’t looking for that type of story. Any author, agent, editor and publisher will tell you to read the market that you are submitting to.
Fast forward four months from the infamous date of blind submission and I visit the mail box to find that familiar ( yet alien) SASE with my name on it in the receiving address spot. The SASE that accompanied the master work that I so laboriously pored over again and again at the peak of about eight months. Full of hope, dreams and aspirations, I ripped the letter open and fished out a small four by six-inch slip of stationary ( this one was crystal clean, no coffee spots unlike many before) that was its contents.
At the top it bore the stamp of said magazine/journal. Familiar…yes, yes. The address–a university press–okay, knew that. But then sixteen words that seemed hardly worth the effort. It read:

“Thank you for letting us consider your work. Best wishes in placing it elsewhere.”
Fiction Editor.
A tad vague, huh? But that is where, dear reader, as the writer I have to medicate( vodka, brandy or whatever the poison) and be honest with myself. Did I really deserve it? Yep! Because in this particular case, when I go back and look at the months it took to write and the length of time from submission to rejection, I still come back to that resounding fact booming like the tell-tale heart in my chest as I crab walk away from that damn mailbox. “Stupid, you didn’t even know what they wanted!”

I have received tons of rejections in my inbox. Some from old manuscripts others from magazine editors, others from agents. Rejections happen and not always as dramatic as this one. Let’s be clear. There are many journals that I have submitted to properly and still got the form rejection letter. (One of my lovelies, years after this lesson, I did publish) I read them, studied them and got the hand to the face. But at least with those I’d done my best work, all the way up to the research of the market. And it’s like Stephen King says in his memoir “On Writing” regarding writers sending to markets that they have not read. I’m paraphrasing, “You might hit the mark every now and then, but you don’t deserve to.”
The point is rejections are going to happen. Hell, someone’s getting rejected as you read this. If you are around long enough and are bold enough to send out work, it will happen. But do your best and then when they come in, read it, learn from it, dust your shoulders off and get back to work. Just don’t let slothfulness help the rejection letters along. Trust me, they don’t need any help. Any comments, let me hear you!
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Whats New?

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Hello my fellow readers and writers! I know it has been quite sometime since I posted on the blog but I am back. There is a lot going on and I could hardly decide where to start. So, I guess I’ll begin with my publication of ABE and the Old Man in the online magazine The Write Room’s January issue. I am truly proud and if you get a chance slide over there and check it out.  

So much reading and writing to do this year and I am extremely excited. HWG has a writer’s conference coming up this week and I’ll be there networking with other writer’s and hopefully learning something that will enhance my own.

Also, I would be flogged and scorned for not mentioning the new addition to the family, my baby girl Olivia Grace. Two months early but not a moment too soon. We are extremely blessed to have her. (See what I meant by a lot going on?). Oh happy day and sleepless nights..  

Would love to hear any feedback or updates from you out there. And like I said I will do better at my postings an  look forward to interacting with you my dear blog family

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