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LEAPing Forward as a Publisher

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Life is weird sometimes. Sometimes you're just yammering along on your Facebook wall, suggesting that maybe you should start a small publishing house and POW! You get a Private Message from a fellow author up in Canada.

One thing leads to another and you're seriously considering joining Judith Graves (YA author and award-winning script writer) in taking on an e-novella line in an established small press.

But life can get weirder. 

Sometimes the opportunity to take over that e-novella line (SHINE) becomes the opportunity to buy the entire company.

And sometimes, because life is so weird, it all happens amazingly fast.

That's how it was for me recently with the acquisition of the established small publisher LEAP BOOKS, LLC.

Judith saw my Facebook post and we struck up a conversation. We decided to take on a line together. Then Laurie Edwards, LEAP's owner, suggested we take the entire thing.

And that's what we did.

I am now the owner and publisher of LEAP, and the Acquisitions Editor for both the YA and MG lines (which we are re-branding). Judith is my amazing co-publisher and the Acquisitions Editor for SHINE. We've known each other since our days in the promotional group, the Class of 2K10 (that means since 2010).

Then we brought on Jen Murgia. Jen's another accomplished YA author and the founder and organizer of YA Fest. Now Jen's also our Marketing Director.

But let's be frank. We're authors. We like to believe we're artists (everyone has their own opinion on that, of course), and although we could probably manage the money at this stage we'd rather not worry about that side of things. We want to focus on using our strengths to the benefit of the house. So we brought William Gee on as CFO.

In addition we have talented editors, cover designers, and marketing assistants backing our efforts. Together we are building a team that will take LEAP to the next level.

And I couldn't be happier!

~Shannon Delany, Publisher

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 August 2014 21:17 )

GAME OF THRONES' Jon Snow: Romantic Hero

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***Spoiler Alert***

I'm summarizing a character here, so, if you haven't watched all of the GoT episodes (including last night's) LOOK AWAY.

If you follow the wildly popular GAME OF THRONES series, you’ve probably noticed the character Jon Snow. If you’re female, and only following the television series (as I am) you might have done a little more than just notice Jon. At this moment I will confess: I have not read the books by George RR Martin. I started the first book, got to a key moment and stopped, realizing I’d rather love the tv series first THEN read the books. So this post will be based entirely on the television series GAME OF THRONES.

Jon Snow’s character on the tv series is older than he’s written in the books (just as a note) and this is important—he needs to be old enough to be viewed as sexy by viewers from the get-go and because this is an HBO series it’s expected that viewers will be older than tweens and teens.

So let’s get to know Jon Snow and why he’s a great romantic hero.

Judging a Book By Its Cover

Let’s give some quick credit to the casting department for Game of Thrones. I doubt many people cannot find something attractive about the actor playing Jon Snow (Kit Harington). And, as television is a visual media, we connect more easily with good-looking characters.

The Powerful Orphan Trope

We empathize with Jon—as the bastard child of Eddard Stark, the ruler of the northern kingdom of Winterfell—he’s saddled with the last name of Snow, the name of any man’s bastard. Eddard, while at war, became involved with another woman and brought the resulting baby, Jon, back to Winterfell to be raised in his household alongside his legitimate children and by his wife. Jon’s father loves him, but Catelyn Stark, Jon’s stepmother, can’t even bear the sight of him. We know rationally it’s not Jon’s fault. He is the victim of circumstance. He is truly being dogged by the sins of his father. As an audience, we get that—we’ve all been denied something we felt we deserved. We’ve all lost something through (seemingly) no fault of our own. Socially isolated by his stepmother, denied knowing who his real mother is, Jon has no hope of any truly honorable station in life. He’s raised among royalty, but denied the perks of it. So close and yet so far, right? And at the end of season one—well, Jon becomes a true orphan.

As a result of living with no loving mother and knowing he’s denied the potentially posh future of his siblings, Jon could become an embittered outcast.

But he doesn’t.

Save the Cat—erm, Save the Direwolf—Moment

We see him demonstrate compassion early on in a classic “save the cat” moment when the family comes across a direwolf’s pups. It’s suggested they kill them (as the mother is dead and they still need nursing) but Bran (Jon’s half-brother) disagrees and Jon backs him up, saying there are five pups, one for each of the Stark children (knowingly excluding himself). Then he finds Ghost, the albino pup who is from the same litter but so very different (can we say “foil”?) and everyone in the family has a pup to match their family crest. He’s smart enough to get symbolism and wise enough to use it to save innocent lives.

The Trope of the Virgin Hero

Jon winds up joining the Night’s Watch at the wall to the far north of Winterfell, taking a vow of celibacy as part of his initiation. Viewers find out he hasn’t been truly/emotionally AND physically intimately involved with anyone and yet he’s willing to give up the potential joys of the flesh to protect civilization from the horrors just on the other side of the wall. It’s strange, but that seems to make something primitive in us sit up and take notice. He’s an outcast, an orphan, a gentle soul, a decent fighter, and he’s willing to sacrifice all pleasure to keep others (many simply strangers) safe.

That screams HERO. And throw him into all black? Hawt.

The Forbidden Love Trope

But that’s not all. Jon goes beyond the wall into the heart of danger. We recognize his bravery, his willingness to obey commands and, his ability to think on his own and break away when that’s the smarter course of action. It’s not long before Jon gets pulled into a wildling group and eventually falls in love with Ygritte, a member of the enemy. Holy Romeo and Juliet, right? Loving Ygritte’s not easy but Jon falls and falls hard—even breaking his vow of chastity for her. When Jon heads back to help the men of the Night’s Watch, Ygritte fills him full of arrows.

But Jon survives, heads back, deals with being subjugated and even openly mocked again by his fellow warriors. He goes on to help defend the wall from attack, taking a leadership role and making some key decisions that aid in the success of holding the wall.

Love Denied Trope

But Ygritte gets inside the wall with a raiding party. She has a moment during which she could kill Jon, but she doesn’t. Then their eyes meet, we get the sense there is still hope there for romance and, in true GoT style, she gets shot and dies in Jon’s arms.

Jon Snow is a great romantic hero. He comes from a rough background but mostly maintains a hero’s outlook. He is willing to sacrifice for others, falls in love, denies love for duty, recognizes love again and then has it torn away from him forever. Who doesn’t feel something for him after all that?

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 June 2014 07:45 )


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This month, on May 20th, the third and final novel in my WEATHER WITCH series, THUNDERSTRUCK,  releases from St. Martin's Press.

This series has been vastly different in nearly every way when compared to my first series, 13 TO LIFE.

*The content in the WEATHER WITCH series is heavier, the background is historical in nature, the research done was more intense, and the topics touched on are darker than the books in 13 TO LIFE. There is not as much kissing and heat. There is very little snark and a minimal of flirting.

These people are at war--even if they don't know it yet.

*I tear my would-be couple apart early on--not typical in a romance.

*None of WEATHER WITCH is told in first person POV and there are more perspectives represented. It's the curse of being a social studies teacher, I think, I believe nearly every character has a story worth telling, the same way I believe every one of you reading this has a story worth sharing.

*I don't spell everything out because I expect readers are capable of filling in some gaps. We must be capable of making leaps of logic if we intend to survive.

*And there are no werewolves.

*But I love the WEATHER WITCH series more than many of you can probably imagine because the WEATHER WITCH world is far deeper, the culture richer (and perhaps more disturbing), the fiction based oddly on quite a bit of fact.

*I tackle abolition while barely addressing the stark horror faced by many Africans forced to work American fields. Why? Because you've heard all that before since grade school and sometimes the most important lessons--that ALL people have value, that ALL lives are precious--have to be approached from a different angle when we've been burnt out by the others.

*I bring up the issue of torture--something we're still trying to define in our country--and raise the very unpopular and uncomfortable question of is there some point--any point--at which it's acceptable to hurt another person in order to assure the comfort of others.

*I raise a multitude of questions and build situations that SHOULD make you uncomfortable.

*My heroine, Jordan Astraea, is not immediately likable. My hero, Rowen Burchette, is not immediately prepared to become a hero. They are, instead, relatively comfortable in their established societal roles. People are like that and it isn't pretty. That's why real heroes aren't born, they are MADE. They are forged in the fires of conflict and they all come to heroism at their own time and for their own reasons.

Or they don't.

Just as in real life, we only know what we can actually do when we're put to the test.

But wait until you read the very last few pages of THUNDERSTRUCK--my commentary. It is in first person.

But what you really want to know is what the buzz has been about over on my FB friends page:


Yes. THUNDERSTRUCK will release as an E-riginal. I was also initially surprised. But life is often a surprising thing and publishers always get the final call as to what format a manuscript releases in. Ebooks are the wave of the future (and, bonus--an item with no associated warehouse or shipping costs). Ebook sales are continuing to rise and much of my readership is technologically savvy. Besides, when we've released other e-only things (like Beasts and BFFs) we've gotten tons of downloads and quite a bit of attention.

So I will trust the wisdom of my editor and the staff at St. Martin's Press knowing they have a clearer view than I do of the market and their goals.

But yes, I, like many of you, still love the feel (and smell) of a real book.

THUNDERSTRUCK will come out as an ebook shortly and the WEATHER WITCH series will conclude (more or less...) and I will continue writing things for you (and for me!). I'm working on two new series, a standalone, and a string of short stories. No, I cannot tell you much more than that at the moment. And that's not all--my art is being displayed in galleries and juried shows. Heck, I even have a picture book in the works.

As much as I loved the WEATHER WITCH series and am just as sad to move forward from it as I was to move forward from 13 TO LIFE, still, it's time and, as I continue to evolve and explore my opportunities for expressing this creative soul of mine I hope you all continue to join me, learning from my experiences as I learn from yours. And, just as importantly, I hope that you continue to evolve and explore your creativity as well.


Haven't gotten WEATHER WITCH yet? Go here for Amazon. Here for Barnes & Noble. Over here for Books A Million and last, but certainly not least, here for Book Depository. Nearly forgot Walmart...

Still need STORMBRINGER? Here's an option via Amazon. Or B&N, or BAM, or Book Depository, or Walmart.

And here are links to THUNDERSTRUCK: Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Books A Million. Be aware--you will still see pages on the major online retailers that say "paperback" and "May 20"--at this point no paperback is expected to be released on that date--sorry for any inconvenience.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 May 2014 21:56 )

Why Read with Your Child?

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Some of the richest learning experiences come from allowing ourselves to learn from unexpected sources. I have learned a lot this year in reading nightly with my ten year old son. As a professional author I ALWAYS say that one of the most important jobs a parent has is reading to his or her child--and not just reading with them when they're little--we should keep it going long into their lives--make it a family book club of sorts.




1.) Reading together is an intimate but social event that requires you to disconnect from social media and focus on having very important downtime with your child. That downtime teaches your child that he or she matters. It builds a bond between the two of you and increases their self-esteem, thereby helping them develop a shield against the negativity they will likely face at some future point in their life.

2.) Reading together helps build a child's vocabulary and strengthens their ability to visualize. A good vocabulary has obvious benefits (especially considering the insane importance testing currently has) and visualization will help your child imagine better ways to solve problems and enable them to set more appropriate and achievable goals.

But this next reason is the one I most often talk about in public...

3.) By reading with your child you open the door to handling what are otherwise difficult and sometimes seemingly impossible topics that you know you need to tackle--and soon--but that we parents are seldom taught how to tackle. YA novels address all sorts of topics that scare the crap out of parents: sex and sexuality, drugs and alcohol use and abuse, bullying, physical and mental or emotional abuse, eating disorders, psychological issues, death, spirituality and religion, discrimination... The list goes on and on. And we can't expect teachers to handle all of those topics (especially as it frequently seems the folks hiding their heads in the sand about the real behavior of kids are the ones screaming that teachers have no right to address those topics). So it falls on us.

Lucky us, right?

It can be the hardest thing--to start those discussions (and we dare not wait until something happens to our child, and only then, talk about the repercussions our kids are probably already suffering under).

Now imagine if an author gives you an easy in? You're reading along in, let's say, THE GIVER and (spoiler) you get to the release of the newchild twin. You can talk about: Communist China, population control and the issue of potential starvation in a community, the difference between what citizens believe is happening and the truth, euthanasia, the value of every human life...

There are so many big and important topics--things you (as a parent) surely have opinions on that you should discuss with your child. Things your child needs to think about and form opinions about--with your guidance.

Take the opportunity books give you. Use every opportunity we authors allow you.

Why am I blogging about this now?

Because reading THE GIVER by Lois Lowry with The Boy has been educational for both of us. At only ten years of age, The Boy doesn't have the background in history to easily draw comparisons between fact and fiction so it's a parent's job to fill in the gaps in his knowledge and help him understand that this Newberry Medal winner is not only a what-could-be but in many ways it shows glimpses of moments and attitudes similar to what-has-been. I can see the wheels turning in his head and I know--because I'm reading with him--that I can come back to this book (and this shared experience) again and again in the future. The value of this experience will not fade.

So read with your child--you'll both learn so much--together,

~Shannon Delany

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 May 2014 08:05 )

Sucker Literary Magazine: The Writing Process Blog Hop

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The lovely Yvonne Ventresca of PANDEMIC (releasing tomorrow from Sky Pony Press!) generously asked me to take part in the Sucker Literary Magazine Blog Hop about the writing process. Yvonne's novel is much-anticipated (and even my tiny local library is psyched about it).

1.) What am I working on?

I'm currently working on several things: a brand new paranormal series that's closer to the 13 TO LIFE series than to the WEATHER WITCH series; a series of short paranormal stories that connect very closely with a class I just took (if you've friended me on Facebook you've seen some things that'll be incorporated into it); a picture book (working title "Pet Project") with a singer-songwriter whose career has been lengthy and international; and art for a juried show I was accepted into for September.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The YA genre is so large it frequently feels like we're all swimming in the same waters and differences there can be subtle. But my paranormal novels incorporate not only my personal voice and perspective but the book research I do is secondary to personal experience in many ways.

3.) Why do I write what I do?

I've always written, I love history, psychology, legends and lore, and, with these current projects I'm drawing more from some truly bizarre situations that happened to me--situations I've wanted to use as inspiration but that were difficult to discuss.

4.) How does my writing process work?

Awkwardly? Every book I've written includes a somewhat different process. My process's similarities usually involve my use of index cards, notebooks including sketches and notes in a variety of colors, character worksheets, maps, and magazine and newspaper clippings that somehow connect to character, setting or story.

Visualization is a very important part to my process--I look and listen for the characters and the story, jot down notes, consider order and pacing, and then I write a rough draft as quickly as I can to outrun my internal editor. I give the rough draft a little break so I can approach it with fresh eyes and then I do some revisions and call on beta readers. They give me input and I weigh it all very carefully and adjust things accordingly.

~Shannon Delany

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