Lonely Shadows ~ a Poem




This is exactly how I read poetry...birds & flowers everywhere.

My very first piece of writing was a poem. I was four years old and I wrote about a stinkbug. Since then I've continued to write the occasional poem. I find it therapeutic in a way that any other form of writing just isn't. There is a lot of freedom in poetry...and emotion...and symbolism.

I don't share all of my poetry with the world (and this is a good thing! lol)...but I do post one of my poems now and then on my personal blog: ShanonaWriter.

Check them out if you're a poetry person like me...or if you just want to.



Halloween 2014

Halloween is the best holiday of the year! Hope you had a good one....and got lots of candy! ♥



Kids & Animals

When I was a little girl I had a dream of growing up and owning my own farm where I could take in all the stray animals everywhere...always. That was a pretty big dream for such a little girl, but I was able to get a jump-start on that dream by bringing various strays into our lives over the years. I am pretty much responsible for every pet my family's had in the past 40 years. I can't help it though...I have a HUGE soft spot for animals. For example, I'm a vegetarian. I tried going veg on and off my whole life. I never did like red meat, mostly chicken & fish. But 6 years ago I went veggie without looking back. This book was the catalyst for ending my appetite for meat forever. (thank you, John Robbins!) ♥

My mom, me, and my G-ma's chihuahua.

My crazy love for animals started before I could even talk. I loved spending time at my Grandma's farm in Checotah, OK. The goats were my favorite. ツ  My animals were my entire world growing up. They helped me through times in my life when really bad things were happening all around me. I could always depend on their love...their comfort...their cuddles. They always reminded me of what happiness felt like...and they gave it to me with lots of snuggles, silliness, and sloppy, floppy-tongued kisses. ツ

Breaking from all the happy memories, there was a time when my love for animals led to tragedy and heartbreak at my tender young age. I was about four. We lived in a trailer park in Mississippi...me, my mom, my step-dad, and Lobo...my ever-faithful German Shepherd. One day I wandered off to a neighbor's trailer. Her cat had given birth to kittens underneath the trailer just a few weeks before and I was dying to see them. It was love at first sight and I could not resist the urge to pick one up to cuddle with. I wasn't even thinking about Lobo, my big, sweet boy who protectively followed me everywhere. As nature would have it, that sweet little kitten bundle was too much for Lobo to ignore. He lunged for the kitten and I started to freak out. I yelled, "NO, Lobo! Go away!" several times and stretched my little arms to hold the kitten as high up in the air as I could........but it was no use. Lobo had the kitten in his mouth in no time at all, shaking it like a ragdoll toy. My mom arrived just in time to see what happened. She scooped me up and held me as I cried and cried. She took Lobo home and then we went to find the kitten and bury it after saying a little prayer. ♥

To this day, I feel guilty about that poor, helpless kitten and my dangerous curiosity. But I did find a way to use the experience in some small way. I took the indelible images left in my mind from that traumatic event and used them to describe the wolves devouring rabbits in my Solitary Sky Series. ツ

me & one of my GG-pa's kitties ツ

Memories of my animal-abundant childhood got me thinking about kids and their seemingly innate love of animals. How they seem to have a natural bond with all kinds of animals. And I started wondering what that bond is all about...and why do some people lose that bond as they get older?
I think it might have something to do with innocence. Children who have not yet been burdened with the responsibilities of life, or the heaviness of human existence connect with creatures who lack the same awareness. Their innocence and the purity of the love and happiness they give each other cement that magical bond....it's a really beautiful thing! ツ

Some of us...I like to call the lucky ones...maintain that bond with animals throughout their entire lifetime. The crazy cat lady....the tireless pet adoption worker....the kind-hearted foster parents....all those who try to make the world a better place for animals...and those of us who share our homes and our hearts with the animals who have become part of our family forever. ♥ 

I think we can see a return to that fragile innocence we had as children when we look into the eyes of our animals. We see it in the unconditional love they give us day after day. It's kind of a way for us to hold on to that innocence even as the world around us is filled with unkindness and tragedy. We hold fast to the purity of the love our animals share with us...and they remind us to be kind. To show kindness to everyone we meet and most importantly...to ourselves. ♥♥♥

...is all we need! ♥




Silly Love Song

My whole life I've loved writing. That love began at the age of 4 with my first poem about a stinkbug. In my preteen years I swore on my Go-Go's Beauty & the Beat album that I was going to become the world's youngest rockstar! I began writing my own songs at a prolific rate. At the age of nine, I wrote the following bridge:

Dreams are only visions
of thoughts running through your head
Heartbeat only rhythm
of the heart so bloody red

The song was called Heartbeat. I don't remember the rest of the lyrics, but the bridge stuck in my head all these years. They aren't stellar lyrics, but they did show a certain promise.
I never became the world's youngest rockstar...or a rockstar of any kind. But I did keep writing in various ways: high school newspaper, poetry, children's books, and now a novel...which was something I never dreamed I'd be able to do. Especially after reading the Harry Potter series. (so many words!!!) I did however miraculously manage to finish my book and now I'm working on several more. I finally feel like a "real" writer. It's not just a part-time thing I do for fun...though it is really fun. =)  But somehow in finishing that whole novel, I think I lost my lyric-writing muse.

I showed promise way back when...and wrote some decent lyrics in college...but now I try to write a song and every lyric that pops into my head sounds corny! lol They sound cheesy.....and embarrassing. It could be that I'm being a bit hard on myself...but I don't think so.
No part of writing my book stressed me out more than writing that freaking song. Well, maybe the formatting part, which was a special kind of hell. But I agonized over "Lilah's Song" and after I published the book, I promptly decided I hated it.


So I embarked upon a re-write of the song to go along with the re-release of the book. And I got completely stressed all over again. I must have a twisted desire for self-punishment. lol  It was another long road, strewn with scribbles, notations, and wadded up pieces of paper tossed in the trashcan.
BUT.....eventually I reached a point where I had found the right lyrics...the clouds parted and the sun shined in brilliant rays across the sky as a faraway chorus of angelic voices came together in spine-chilling harmony....the song was done. And I was happy with it!

The final product...all it needs is music...but I have zero music writing ability. Not even going there! lol

Lilah's Song

no place home
Light in the dark
Another turned stone
On the same highway
Down a different road
Until you found me
And took all I own

This solitary sky is ours tonight
Stars dancing as we pass them by
World made for only you and I
Underneath a solitary sky

Your smile is my drug
Your laughter my breath
Inside of you
Is my deathless death
Your name on my lips
Your voice in my head
Tattooed on my bones
Written in red

This solitary sky is ours tonight
Stars dancing as we pass them by
A world made for only you and I
Underneath a solitary sky

You’ll always be my reason why
Underneath a solitary sky



New Cover Reveal!

Solitary Sky has a shiny new cover!

The re-release is coming soon and will be announced here...until then, enjoy this absolutely amazing and stunningly beautiful new cover designed by cover artiste, Karri Klawiter ♥........and have a look at the mini-trailer I made especially for the cover reveal...good times! ツ

Here's how the back blurb reads:

My name is Lilah.

This wasn’t supposed to be my life. I had to leave home. Get far away as I could from the four walls I shared with my so-called mother.

I came to Gentian the day of my eighteenth birthday. I wanted to spend time with Gram, get through my Senior year, and graduate with my best friend, Val. My plans did not include weird, prophetic dreams…or lusting after the guy in the starring role.

But then he walked straight out of those dreams. He was real…and in that moment everything changed. I was drawn deep and held firm by his gravity—close enough to learn all his secrets. I should’ve walked away when I realized he was something more than human, but I didn’t.

I couldn’t.

I had no clue that darker secrets remained hidden. Secrets that could take away everything I never asked for…everything that now I can’t be without.

Secrets I'm afraid will end the life I’m just beginning to live.



Why Not YA?

"Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children." -Ruth Graham, quoted from Against YA

Well, I don't. I don't feel embarrassed about writing YA either. How presumptuous of this woman to tell an entire demographic of readers how they should feel...or what they should be reading!  Every reader reads for different reasons. Some just want a light, fun read while others want a good scare. Not everyone wants a heavy literary read where they learn lessons about life and grow just a little. I would never tell somebody what they should be reading (promoting my books doesn't count! lol) or shame them for what they are reading.

---"I know, I know: Live and let read. Far be it from me to disrupt the “everyone should just read/watch/listen to whatever they like” ethos of our era. There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader. And if people are reading Eleanor & Park instead of watching Nashville or reading detective novels, so be it, I suppose. But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something."
But she is trying to disrupt the ethos...she's telling people to do the opposite of reading/watching/listening to what they like. All because she thinks we might be "missing something"....we're not. If we don't read every book ever made we are "missing something"...but we get to choose...then at least we're not missing what we want. 

---"Books like The Westing Game and Tuck Everlasting provided some of the most intense reading experiences of my life. I have no urge to go back and re-read them, but those books helped turn me into the reader I am today. It’s just that today, I am a different reader."
That's great...for you. Thing is, we are all different readers...different from you and what you enjoy. That's the beauty of diversity...and the reason your article is so ludicrous.

---"I’m a reader who did not weep, contra every article ever written about the book, when I read The Fault in Our Stars. I thought, Hmm, that’s a nicely written book for 13-year-olds. If I’m being honest, it also left me saying “Oh, brother” out loud more than once. Does this make me heartless? Or does it make me a grown-up?"
Um, neither...it makes you YOU. Others did weep. I didn't read it precisely because I knew I would weep. Your experience while reading any book is just that...YOUR experience. Let others have experiences of their own without writing an article shaming them for it.

---"But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. It’s not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character’s emotional life—that’s the trick of so much great fiction—but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults"
YA books are written by adults, with few exceptions. Adults with that mature insight you speak of. Writers do write their teenage characters from a teenage perspective, but that doesn't mean it's an immature perspective...or that anyone reading has to abandon their maturity.
Adding that (supposedly) feels an awful lot like a snarky dig...calling YA readers immature.

---"Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering."
There you go again, telling readers what they "ought to" do. I like happy endings. I hate sad endings. But I'm not going to write an article saying there should only be happy endings.
How many YA books have you read? How can you possibly know what you're talking about? There are plenty of tragic endings in YA...yet this is your "most important" point? 

---"Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this"
I would've hoped you'd be better than writing this article...instead you are spot on about sounding snobbish and joyless. Old is subjective.

---"I remember, when I was a young adult, being desperate to earn my way into the adult stacks; I wouldn’t have wanted to live in a world where all the adults were camped out in mine. There’s a special reward in that feeling of stretching yourself beyond the YA mark, akin to the excitement of graduating out of the kiddie pool and the rest of the padded trappings of childhood: It’s the thrill of growing up. But the YA and “new adult” boom may mean fewer teens aspire to grown-up reading, because the grown-ups they know are reading their books"
Why in the world would you have to earn your way into the adult stacks? I read all kinds of adult books when I was a teen...Flowers in the Attic (whole series)...The Hobbit...Danielle Steele, just to name a few. The world of book genres is not a camping ground or a kiddie pool...there is no graduation...you read what you want to read, what you enjoy reading. And that's all.
I have never heard any young reader upset because adults are reading "their" books. That's just silly. Reading is for everyone...adults included.

---"When I think about what I learned about love, relationships, sex, trauma, happiness, and all the rest—you know, life—from the extracurricular reading I did in high school, I think of John Updike and Alice Munro and other authors whose work has only become richer to me as I have grown older, and which never makes me roll my eyes."
And yet, some adult readers would roll their eyes at John Updike and Alice Munro (not me!). It's all subjective...every reader has their own taste...likes and dislikes. For you to take your dislike and try to tell us we should feel embarrassed for liking it is just....well....it's shameful.

Maybe you, dear Ms. Graham, should be the one who is embarrassed for writing such a pretentious, accusatory, and unfounded article.

For another, more expletive-laden response that is pure awesomeness, check this out:
Adults Can Read Whatever the Hell They Want
Thank you, Sara, for saying everything I was thinking!



My Story〜Part One

I decided to do a two-part blog series (maybe more) about two traumatic events in my life that have made me realize that I am a strong person......and I have been all along. I'm not sharing these stories on a whim. I rarely talk about these times in my life, but I feel it's really important to share my experiences because so many young girls are still going through what I went through. Relationship violence and date rape are devastating young lives. It's time to put an end to the abuse......it's time for young people to be given a realistic view of sex.......and it's time for everyone to understand that actions have consequences. 
I share this story in commiseration and in hopes of helping to educate and eradicate sexual/relationship abuse.
And to let girls everywhere know that you are strong......and you are not alone. ♥

I’m seeing stories all over the internet and hearing them on the news about young girls becoming victims of relationship violence or date rape......or getting drunk and making themselves an "easy target" for rape. It breaks my heart...and makes me furious. With the advent of the internet we get to hear a lot more of these stories......they become worldwide news in a few clicks of the keyboard. But this particular societal ill has been around for decades......sadly longer. Has it gotten worse? I don’t know the statistics, but they don’t always give a clear picture anyway. A lot of these types of assaults go unreported......again, sadly.  What I do know is that it hasn’t gotten any better......and that is completely unacceptable.  I sit and I read Facebook post after Facebook post about slut-shaming......young girls killing themselves because of bullying......men getting 30 day sentences for raping underage girls. My rage burns hot because I wonder who is supposed to be protecting these girls? Colleges turn a blind eye......even law enforcement. We as parents and a society in general are failing these girls if we can’t teach our sons how to treat a girl...how not to force sex upon an unconscious girl and then drop her off on her front porch, still unconscious......and then laugh about it with your buddies.  We also fail if we don’t ingrain in our daughters’ minds that they are worth way too much to ever put up with someone who doesn't respect them in every way. I get a pit in my stomach and an anger building inside every time I hear or read about stories like this......because they were my story.


When I was a Junior in high school, I was not very focused on stuff like school and grades. I was more into 80’s fashion and partying on the weekends. I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but I was friendly with them......I was friendly with each of the cliques in my school. All of my life I’ve been a people-pleaser type. Even now, though I’m a lot less likely to put up with bullshit. Forty will do that to you. =) 
One night at the beginning of the school year, my parents went out of town. I stayed at a friend’s house with strict instructions NOT to go back to my house. My parents didn’t have a lot of trust in me......all those nights of sneaking out sort of ruined any hope of that. So to that effect, they took away my house keys......but I was way too devious for my own good. I made sure I was the last one out of the house, left the door in the garage unlocked, and snagged a garage door opener. 

Yeah, I was determined.
So in my infinite teenage wisdom, I decided it would be fun to have a party......just a small party where I’d invite a few friends from school. Does that ever happen? A “small party”? Not when you’re a clueless teen......and I found that out the hard way. It started off small, just as planned......but then somehow word got spread around after a football game and suddenly half the school was at my house......the house that even I wasn’t supposed to be in.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Sixteen Candles, imagine Jake’s party and you’ll get the idea of what my house looked like that night. People flooded every room of the house, including the formal living room where we weren’t allowed to walk because it would disturb the vacuum cleaner lines......the kitchen where people ate all our food, and made a huge mess......the backyard where beer cans were littered everywhere and random people were using the hot tub......couples making out and god knows what else in every bed in the house, especially my parents’ bed. They also stole my mom’s jewelry. The neighbors even called the police, but they didn’t do anything to get the people out of my house. Today I am truly disgusted by their lack of respect for someone else’s house and property.
I had clearly lost control and knew I was up a major creek......so what was my solution? Another display of my remarkable decision-making capability at such a young age.

I drank.

I drank a lot.

I drank so I didn’t have to worry about the consequences of that night......so that I could have a momentary escape. I had no idea that escape would lead me to the depths of my own private hell. It would set in motion some of the worst times in my life, ultimately revealing a strength I never knew I had......and that I wish I could have learned some other way.

In my drunken stupor, I was led into my bedroom by some guys from my school. I was already barely conscious, but that didn't seem to trouble them. As I remember, there were four guys, laughing and telling me to take off my clothes. My drunk mind thought they were flirting with me, but that was far from their intention. The next thing I knew I was on my bed being held down. I struggled and I remember saying, screaming, “No” over and over......but they didn't stop. They violated me right there in my own bed. In my own room. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop them. I was completely powerless. They started grabbing objects from around the room. They thought it would be a good time to stick them inside of me. I cried and continued to struggle, but it was useless. So I called forth my new best friend......escape......and I slipped into a groggy, unconscious state to avoid witnessing all the vile things they were doing to me. I don’t remember how long it was happening. I don’t remember when it all ended. I remember waking up to a trashed out, empty house......and my life that was now the same way.

I felt like death the next morning. Not warmed over...just death. I had to call my parents and tell them what happened. Not a shining moment for me. They flew home immediately. My friends helped me get the house into only semi-destroyed condition. To say my parents were furious is a gross understatement. But I was so low at that point, their anger and harsh words couldn’t send me much lower. The punishment they gave me was fair, but it was a pep talk compared to the punishment I had coming......from everyone else around me......and my own relentless mind.
When I went back to school the next Monday, I wasn’t expecting to be a pariah. None of my friends were talking to me. I’d walk down the hall and people would stare, point, and whisper......like something out of an 80’s teen movie. But this was real life. I soon found out that rumors were all over school about me gang-banging four guys at my party......and how kinky it was......and how I was such a slut.  I was in total shock. My life had been up-ended over the course of one weekend and I had no idea how to set it right again. I had no friends to confide in......I couldn’t go to my parents because they were so upset about the party......and my mom was not happy with me because she heard the same nasty rumors at the insurance office where she worked via a girl from my school that worked there part-time. I was all alone......the most completely alone I’ve ever been in my life. There was literally no one who would help me. One day in class I noticed the teacher, a good-old-boy coach, talking with a group of boys across the room. They would look over at me and chuckle to each other. It wasn’t hard to figure out they were talking about me. I was mortified. Even more so when the teacher leered over at me and spoke the name “Champagne Shannon” in front of the whole class. It was a nickname I’d been given in reference to the rumor that a champagne bottle was used on me. My teacher called me that horrible name in front of everyone......and now everyone was staring at me......some of them smiling......one of them my pervert teacher.  I couldn’t stop the tears and I had no intention of giving any of them the benefit of seeing me cry. I ran out of the room, tears flowing, and went straight to the only place I knew to go in that moment. My counselor. That’s what counselors are for, right?
I told her what that perverted asshole had done to me and she said there was nothing she could do. There was nothing anyone could do.
I truly felt alone......like I was the only one in my situation and I had nowhere to go. I waited in the stairwell until the next class. I was heading into a dangerous time of surrender. I wanted to change schools......I wanted to kill myself......I didn’t see an end to this nightmare I was living.

A few months later we had a seminar at our school about something that was plaguing teenage girls. Something I’d never heard about before......date rape. We were separated into groups of boys or girls to view the seminar. I sat in that dark auditorium......in the very back row......and watched as the girls on screen described the awful things they went through. One of the girls told a story just like what happened to me at my party. I sat frozen in my seat. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe. I was in tears realizing what had happened to me was not some fun time for guys at my drunk expense......it was date rape. It had a name......and it was against the law. Immediately afterward I stopped to talk to the ladies holding the seminar. I told them in brief terms what happened to me. They told me to call the police. I agreed, but I was so nervous. That day after school,  I called the police station and told them I had been raped. They told me too much time had passed to have any physical evidence against the guys, but that I could file a report. When the cop car showed up in our driveway, my mom was not happy. I sat down alone with the officer and gave him my story and all the names. He said there was likely nothing they could do after all that time, but they would be talking with each boy and his parents. At the time I was glad to get even that much......it gave me a sense of relief to know that their parents would learn what their sons did. But looking back, I now know that three months was not the statute of limitations on rape. Again my power was taken away......and I would never see justice for my rapists.

What happened to me that night set the stage for the most disastrous relationship in my life, which I will talk about in part two of this series. Being raped changed me. It affected my life, even to this day. I live with this skeleton in my closet because I have no choice, but I did get my power back. I learned what true love and respect are in a relationship......and I set my standards high for anyone I choose to let into my life.

Thank you for reading my story. ♥


If you feel you have been sexually violated, please reach out to someone......a friend, an organization (RAINN), or you can send me an email.  No one should ever go through this alone......you have people on your side......and this is NOT your fault.



Re-Release & Reveal!

I'm getting ready for the re-release Solitary Sky......I don't have an exact release date yet, but I can say that it will be sometime in early April. Right before my only child turns 18.


There will be some minor tweaks......a brand new COVER (!).....and other fun stuff for the re-release......good times to come!


In addition to all that, I've come up with a new blurb for the back of the book......which I'm going to reveal right here, right now.....



My name is Lilah.
This was not supposed to be my life〜but I had to leave home......get far away from the four walls I shared with my so-called mother.
I moved to Gentian to stay with Gram, get through my Senior year, and graduate with my best friend, Val. My plans never included weird, prophetic dreams......or watching him walk right out of them.
That was the moment everything changed. I was drawn deep and held firm by his gravity......close enough to learn all his secrets. I should’ve walked away when I found out he and his family were something more than human〜but I didn’t.
I couldn’t.

I wasn't aware of darker secrets that remained hidden. Secrets that could rip away everything I never asked for〜and now I can’t be without.
Secrets I'm afraid will end the life I’m just beginning to live.


Let me know what you think in the comments.....and thanks for visiting.....hope to see you back soon!