Thursday, March 8, 2012

Interview with Shannan Sinclair

What will readers like about your book?

I think everyone at some time has experienced phenomena that doesn’t fit into the confines of logic and science. Every individual has a dream space on a nightly basis and has probably had experiences that have left them wondering at the nature of reality and consciousness.

Dream Walker explores the question: is our mind really only contained to our brain? Or is it possible that space/time/dimension travel, although not yet something we do on a physical level, is something we have always done through consciousness? After twenty years of studying quantum theory, philosophy, mysticism and holistic theology, Sinclair wanted to weave those concepts with some of her own dream experiences into a paranormal, sci-fi thriller.

Why did you self publish?

The whole process of writing Dream Walker has been an intuitive one for me, following inspiration and my gut feelings. From the beginning I was drawn toward the path of self publishing. But after I finished Dream Walker, my head got in the way. I had a fear that I wouldn’t be considered legitimate as a novelist if I didn’t try to go traditional by querying agents and finding a “real” publisher. I felt that I was taking the easy way—coward’s way—afraid of rejection slips and taking my licks. So I started checking the boxes on the “traditional route” task list so I could prove myself.

But each step on that path was like the worst case of writer’s block I ever had. Every move I made in the Trad direction was like walking through sludge. I had zero enthusiasm for it. It seemed all wrong. So I started researching self publishing again.

It is such an exciting time to be a writer! The opportunities and services supporting independent authors are abundant and incredible; workshops, websites, books and blogs specifically geared toward the indie author. It was like the printing press was just now created and the only one deciding if something gets published or not is the writer! I started getting super excited again about taking the D.I.Y. path.

Yes, it is a lot of work. It means I have to manage the production of my book; setting it up for the printing press, converting it for Kindle and Nook, and dealing with the distributors directly. It also means I have to market and promote the book myself. I created my own website. I write my own press releases. I arrange my own book launch and blog tour and build my own author platform. Plus, I am in charge of both quality control and the professionals that I hire to assist me in making my product the best it can be. And on top of all that, I have to write the next book in the series.

So why would I do this Indie thing? Who in their right mind would take all that on? Wouldn’t it be easier to attempt to go Traditional and have someone else do it?

Well, it turns out that most of those tasks would end up on my to-do list anyway. Apparently, the agent gets you the publisher, the publisher prints your book and the rest is up to you. Especially if this is your first time to the rodeo, like me. The likes of Stephen King and James Patterson may get a little more than that. May.

Second, I get to retain the rights to my book. If I got picked up by a traditional publisher they would want to retain the electronic and movie rights to Dream Walker. Sorry, but retaining those rights is important to me. I have a vision, darn it! It involves the Oscars and Tom Cruise.

And rather than the 17.5% royalty a traditional publisher would let me have for my e-book, I get 65-70% by going to the distributor directly. Being that I wrote 100% of the book, I think that is fair.

What sealed the deal for me was a story a friend of mine shared about another author. She scored an agent after six months of pitching and querying. Three months after that her agent found her a publisher. She was thrilled to announce that her book would be available for her fans to read in January of 2014, two years and 2 months from the time of her announcement! I was like, “Oh, heck no! Three of my books could be available to read by then!” That’s when I committed to the Independent, Self Publishing Plan of Action for Shannan Sinclair and Dream Walker.

I immediately went to CreateSpace and assembled my paperback. That took about 2 hours. I uploaded it to their server in 20 minutes. Twelve hours later, I ordered my proof and two days later, my paperback was on my doorstep. As soon as I approved my proof, within 12 hours it will be available to my readers. It was just as easy with converting and uploading for Kindle and Nook.

That was the ultimate deciding factor in going Indie: the visceral rush in having control over my vision and the speed with which I see the results of my work. No waiting 2 to 3 years to hold my book in my hands or have people read it.

What is your writing process?

My first draft is an outline, a very, very rough outline. I have multiple characters with different goals and weaving them together is easier for me if I have a general pattern to follow. I see the outline as a skeleton, some bones I can build flesh around as I write.

Having an outline also helps if I get stuck in a scene. I can choose another scene in the outline to tinker with while the previous chapter incubates a little more. Sometimes taking your mind off of what it is focused on allows epiphany room for its two cents.

My outline is by no means set in stone. About halfway through the first draft of Dream Walker, a character told me they were a different person than my outline expected them to be and I had to go back and rework the plot to make them who they said they were. That also changed the plot moving forward, so I reworked the outline accordingly.

As for revisions, many writers will tell you to write your first draft all the way through, then go back and do revisions. There is wisdom in that. It is really easy to get caught up in a never-ending process of revising. A chapter can ALWAYS be better!

Needless to say, I do not follow that wisdom. I revise a chapter as soon as the first draft of it is done. I print it out, read it through, and bleed on it in red ink. I have to get my chapters solid before I can move forward. By the time I finished “the first draft” of Dream Walker and started revising it as a whole, it was probably a fourth draft.

How long did it take you to write your first draft?

Being that I do not write a real first draft, I can only say that Dream Walker took me exactly 1 year to write. I was hoping to be able to do it in 6 months, but I am a single mother and I work full-time as a 911 dispatcher. My workday is 11 hours long, plus I have a two hour per day commute. And of course the details of life got in the way: I went through a divorce, moved, and still had all the mundane chores that had to be managed; laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, and taking care of two dogs, two cats and a goldfish. Finding the time and energy to sit down and write was incredibly challenging. I am amazed it got done at all, let alone in a year!

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Aislen, Raziel, and Sergeant Mathis have tiptoeing around in my head since 2001, sometimes rather loudly. At a very young age, I began experiencing many strange and extraordinary paranormal events, from dream travels, such as my protagonist experiences, to the haunting of my childhood home. I even had the pleasure of a couple of UFO sightings.

As the years progressed, I began to experience psychic phenomena such as premonitions, telepathy, clairvoyance and clairaudience. These occurrences continued to increase and my traditional paradigm couldn’t explain them. This sent me on a quest for knowledge and understanding about the ephemeral phenomena I was experiencing firsthand. After twenty years of studying mysticism, holistic theology, philosophy and quantum theory, I wanted to weave those concepts with some of my own experiences.

I sat down to write Dream Walker the first time in 2003 and got about 12,000 written—a solid start. But a severe writer’s block, locked me up and I set it aside. I tried again in 2005, but remained stuck, really only moving the words around of that original 12,000.

In June of 2010 a series of events rocked my world and through my life into a downward spiral. I reached a very dark place and really question my very existence and purpose in life. While hiding under my bedcovers, I literally heard a voice. “It’s time,” was all it said. Whether it was an angel, a spirit guide, or God itself, who knows, but in that one second, I knew everything it was telling me. it was time to get out of bed and write my book. I also knew in that instant that what I had written prior was the second book, not the first, which was why I couldn’t get past it.

I climbed out of bed and started to write. It literally saved my life.

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