Friday, September 23, 2011

Contest Announcement

Hello everyone! I have now reached over 200 followers on The Twitter. I know it's not exactly a milestone, but it's something I'm excited about nonetheless. So to celebrate the big 200, I'm going to have a contest. Don't worry, it's very simple. All you have to do to enter is post your name and email address in the comments section of this post, and on Saturday, October 1st I will announce the winner. PLEASE NOTE: I promise that I'm not aquiring your emails so I can spam you with info about myself (unless you just want me to). You will only recieve an email from me if you are the winner of the contest.

So what is the prize? Well since I have over 200 followers, I'm giving away a gift certificate in the amount of $20 to either Barnes & Noble or Amazon; the winner can decide which. There will only be one winner, and you have until midnight EST of the 30th to enter. This is just my way to thank you all for following me, and to encourage you to read. And if you choose to buy my books with the monies, well, that's your call.

If enough people enter, then I may have another giveaway for a higher amount when I reach 500 followers. ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Job

So as of last Friday I have a job. You know, the kind where you actually go into a place of work, and exchange for your services they pay you the money. I always considered my "career" as a writer a job, but since I've barely sold 100 books (most of which were purchased by me and given to friends) some people probably don't consider it a "real" job. Which is understandable, but I still treated my writing like a real job by doing a certain amount of writing each day, setting hours and goals for myself, and making sure I met deadlines.

Ok, so the deadlines were set by me, and no one would know if I didn't meet the deadlines, and that is where there was the flaw in having people take my writing career seriously.

I'm still a writer, and no matter what kind of job I have, I'll always be a writer first. My new job is nothing terribly exciting, I'm a server for a breakfast and lunch joint. So far, it has really kicked my butt working from 7 to 3-3:30ish, because I'm not used to being on my feet all day (one of the best parts about being a writer is the sitting, in my opinion). But it's been great exercise, and even though my muscles have been sore, that hasn't stopped me from being able to go in the past three mornings. Those were actually my "training" days, and let me tell you, for someone who has never been a server before I've learned a hella lot. I still haven't quite mastered everything, and yesterday was quite the test. Sundays are our busiest days, and since it was my last day of training the boss decided to give me my own small section to look after instead of just shadowing my trainer. The reastaurant has an upstairs section, so I had four tables up there, but the boss and hostess were nice enough to never give me more than 3 tables at a time.

And let me tell you, that was difficult for ole' Shawn. I didn't mind running up and down the stairs, but I hated being so far away from the kitchen. Numerous times someone else had to bring up the food to my tables, because my timing was so bad. I wasn't just sitting up there with my thumb up my butt, I would go down to check on the food, see that it wasn't ready, then go back upstairs to refill drinks and take a new table's drink order. See, we have to take their drink orders within 30 seconds of them being seated (although the managers prefer it if we greet the guests immediately). So I would go down to the kitchen, see that the food wasn't up yet, then on my way upstairs find out that I have a new table. After going upstairs taking drink order, then getting their drinks, someone would show up with my other table's food, and even though they're just making sure people get their food while it's hot, I still felt like a royal D-bag.

Not to mention, I forgot to put in two side orders of fries until after their food showed up, then put the fries on someone else's ticket in the computer, and dropped someone's bicuit right as I was putting it on their table. Yeah, that person didn't tip me. I also haven't memorized the entire menu yet, so I kept having to go back and ask questions like (what kind of bread do you want, which side with that omlet, how do you want your eggs cooked, your burger?) I'm not a meat-eater, so it doesn't occur to me right away that people can be picky about their meat. Ok, not picky, they just want it cooked a certain way.

But even after all my mess-ups, I must have done enough good to get scheduled for four days this week. Occording to my co-workers that's good for a newbie, so I'm pretty excited. I'm just dreading next Sunday, but I'll deal with that biatch when she gets here. For now, I'm just happy that I have a job that pays me regularly, allows me to have time to write, and will be fairly easy once I get the hang of it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Guest Post on Inspiration by Dill Werner

Allow me to give an introduction; I am Dill Werner, a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and a Bachelor’s in German language. During my first three years, I attended the College of Charleston, where I encountered Shawn C. Sproatt. I now work at my Alma Mater and will be studying for my MFA in Creative writing next year. I am writing on more novels than I can count on my fingers, but my most important is a book called “Status: Positive.” The introduction can be read on my deviant art page:

Currently, I have placed myself in a creative bubble as I write my next novel. The following blurb gives a simple explanation of the plot for “Status: Positive.”
Blue Stevens is a teenage girl struggling to find her identity in a world divided between Positive and Negative, Gay and Straight. She's spent ten years living on the Southampton Reserve for Segregated Homosexuals, a contained community cut off from the general population, with same-sex parents. Join Blue as she tries to find her place as a positive person living in a negative world.

I have barred myself from reading any books or short stories that my influence my writing. I won’t read “The Hunger Games” or see the new “Atlas Shrugged” movie. This is a direct contrast to my normal research-based method of writing. Normally, I wade through mountains of pictures, articles, books and films. I find inspiration comes easiest to me through visual stimuli. If I am writing a wedding scene, I will research different patterns, fabrics and cuts of dresses to use for the bride. When I have an image in my mind, the story plays out like a movie. I will see her getting dressed, slipping on her shoes. Then another character comes in to play. What are they wearing? What is special about their facial features? How do they interact? Little bits of color allow the reader to make a connection to the characters and to the story.

Now, I have faced my greatest challenge; starting from scratch. The novel I am working on is a dystopian, coming-of-age tale. I have a list of literature that I could read; “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood, “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “The Bar Code Tattoo” by Suzanne Weyn, and several others. I will admit that I began listening to the audiobook for “Under the Dome” by Stephen King, but stopped due to cross-contamination threats. I do not want to be influence by so many authors who have come before me. From the beginning, I knew I would face the threat of “borrowing” from other writers. How do you write something that has been done before while still being original?

Thankfully, I haven’t been exposed to many dystopian novels. I know their themes, but have tried not to be formulaic with my plot lines. When creating your own world, it is easier to make up new rules. I find that some questions answer themselves while others don’t need to be answered at all. I developed a looking glass version of our world. For example, the area where my characters live is called the Anglo-Continent. It’s a large island divided into five regions: North, South, East, West and the Middle region. Each region is self-sustained while being governed by a set of rules. This allowed me to build the Reserves in remote areas of the continent, which has concentrated populations due to its size. Imagine only being able to live in certain cities in your state. Not only does this allow me to control a smaller population, but it explains how the government is able to have such strict control over its people.

I will admit that I was first inspired to write this novel while reading Mary Anne Moody’s “Coming of Age in Mississippi” for an American History class. One scene in particular stuck out in my mind. Moody described how she and her fellow civil rights activists would be taken away from their sit-ins hot vans. They would then be locked inside of the cars, sometimes for hours, in the hot Mississippi summer sun. Other times, they were contained in makeshift pens much like those that would contain cattle. First, my mind turned to concentration camps. Being half-German and having German language as one of my majors meant I’d had a plenty of experience with World War II survival stories. My main theme came to me; segregation.

There, in my bedroom with Moody’s book in my hand, I saw a little girl entering a bus with her father. What was special about her? Where was she going? Then, I saw the looming walls approaching. She was being placed into segregation. At the time, I was taking my final Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop during my senior year. I was faced with a task I still find to be impossible; writing a short story. I am a novelist. I believe that I lack the physical ability to write a contained short story that is less than 30-pages. My first attempt was horrible, but the foundation was there.

I have had this desire from the beginning to make sure everything I was writing came exclusively from my mind. I didn’t want someone to pick up this novel and say, “Oh, she borrowed X and Z from Orwell” or “This is just another version of Ayn Rand.” If I have been influenced by other writers, then it was by mistake. There are so many practical questions which must be asked. I do have to research certain architectural facts. I by no means have any idea how cities are built. My biggest question was and still is: How can a community exist while completely segregated from the rest of the country? I’ve found it’s easiest to address the most practical questions and not dwell too much on the minute details.

I could easily open one of the several dystopian novels in my local library to find the answers. I won’t let myself take shortcuts. There’s something so rewarding about being able to say, “I did it myself.” If I get things wrong, then I get them wrong. The best thing about developing your own world is being able to revert to the classic because-I-said-so mentality. I shall continue writing, working, and living in my bubble until my novel is completed. I wish all of the readers of Shawn C. Sproatt’s blog the best of luck in their future writing. I hope I provided a little inspiration and asked a few questions you’d be happy to answer.

Feel free to contact me on twitter @dillwerner or Facebook
You may read more of my writing on at
Happy Writing!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Surprised...Not So Much

Ok, I enjoy a good book/movie/TV show. Heck, I even enjoy the bad ones (although I have yet to see an episode of "Jersey Shore," and I intend on keeping it that way). But one of the problems with being a writer, and even a theatre person, is that it's really hard for a plot to surprise me.

I know what you're probably thinking. "Oh, great. Another person who thinks they know everything." Trust me, I know I don't know everything (quantum physics is really confusing!). And I'm fully aware that I'm very much to blame on figuring out plot twists, and book/film endings. It's just that I've studied the formula for how a script should unfold so many times. In college I had to take Script Analysis, and I also took Playwrighting I & II. Plus, I've watched a lot of TV, movies, and I've ready many books. I'm sure we can all figure out how things are going to end, and even if it's obvious we at least enjoy the ride.

In fact, I actually enjoy trying to figure out if this character is really a bad guy who has been deceiving us all along, or if he's actually the main character's long lost twin brother. Nowadays it's not hard to figure out that something is going to have a happy ending. That's usually a no-brainer, unless you're reading someone like George R.R. Martin, who apparently is notorious for killing off characters left and right. So it's really a shocker that I'm not really into the "Mystery" genre, but I think that mostly has to do with the fact that I hate how there's always such a high dead body count. Unless it's a child molester who winds up dead, then I'm not a fan of finding a dead body simply for the fact that it leads the main character to the killer.

And don't get me started on how annoying it is that the victim is very often a dead hooker on these crime shows. Seriously, if I had a dollar...

In fact, sometimes when I read a book, or watch a movie, I'll just tell my brain to turn itself off so I can be surprised for once. But I think one of the reasons why I enjoy figuring out plot twists and endings is because it just makes me feel smart in a way. I'll be honest, I was never the best student, so having this one thing that not everyone else does just makes me feel good about myself.

Also, I think I get a little bit of it from my dad. There have been times when we're watching a movie, and I've decided to just sit back and enjoy it, and he'll figure out a plot twist right before it's revealed. But I'm not one of those people who blames their parents for their problems. I'm also not one of those people who will give away a surprise once I've figured it out. I'm just the jerk at the end of the movie saying, "I knew it!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Haters to the Left

...Ok, just for "legal" reasons I feel compelled to say that the title of this post is a quote from 30 Rock. There, now the producers can't sue me...unless it means I get to meet Tina Fey. Ok, never mind that quote was all me!

This post has to do with the word "like" and profiling. I'll admit that when I was younger I used my share of the word "like." In fact, when I'm quoting a conversation I had or witnessed I use it in lieu of the word "said." Example: "And then I was like, 'I think we should rent a comedy,' and she was like, 'well, only if it's a romantic comedy,' and then I said something like, 'romantic comedies are the reason so many relationships fail. They set expectations too high, and women expect men to literally sweep them off their feet.'"

For the record, I never actually said that. I like a romantic comedy if the story line looks appealing and there's an actor in it that I'm a fan of.

This is the extent to which I abuse this word. Never have I said a sentence that goes, "It's like, you know, over by the books that are, like, sci-fi. But it's not, like, a sci-fi, it's like a fantasy that's, like, modern."

So I was very annoyed when recently (ok, a month or so ago) I was at the local book store looking for a certain book. I wasn't sure what the title was, because I was picking it up for my dad, and he wasn't sure of the title or the author's name, either. So I went to the counter asked the associate "Hi, I'm looking for a book, and the title is something like, 'Ramblings of a Lowcountry Judge," or 'Ramblings of a Judge.'" Yes, I used "like" instead of the more intelligent, "either." I'm much more articulate when writing, then when I am speaking out loud, and very often I speak before fully forming a sentence in my mind.

The associate sort of smirked and said, "Yeah, we like have something that's like that."

And because I'm in my early twenties (and probably looked younger to her since she was middle-aged), she automatically pegged me as a dumb-dumb who can't properly express herself--or one who can, but chooses to use "colloquial" words to do so. It irritated me, because I've been in there numerous times, and she knows for a fact I'm not this type of person. What was also annoying was that I could tell she assumed most young people speak this way. I hate it when people make assumptions like this! It's not as if I walked in there popping gum while listening to my ipod and texting with a 'tude sway of the hips. Then maybe I could understand her assumption a little better, but I still would have been pissed!

I know a lot of older people don't have faith in my generation (cue someone above the age of 50 saying, "You kids today and your music"), but don't assume we're all a bunch of idiots!

I know, I know, I should just let it go, and maybe after ranting about it in my blog post will help a little. But what also has annoyed me is that on three separate occasions when I went in there to buy a book she's looked at it and said something like, "What's this about? So many people have been buying it." You should know the answer to this! You work in a freaking book store! I went in there to get the latest Chelsea Handler book "Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me." I know that Chelsea is a comedian, and not a novelist, but she has THREE books out that are all about her. She didn't write this latest one, but technically there are four books out that are centered around her. And they've been spread out by a few years. You'd think she would have figured it out by now, especially since all of the books have made the NY Times best seller's list.

Another NYT best seller that she hadn't read was "The 19th Wife." A local book club was reading it, and she said, "you'll have to tell me what it's about." Because apparently she's incapable of reading the summary on the back, or in the jacket, of a book. This was proven when I bought "A Discovery of Witches" (again a NYT best seller), and she looked at it and said, "What is this book?! So many people have been buying it, so I hope they like it."

I'm sorry, but WTF?!?!?! I understand that lots of books come out every week, and there's only so much time in the day for people to read. But if you work in a freaking book store, you need to know what you're selling! It's not hard to google a title and read a blurb and reviews of it. Even if it's just part of the review (I'd now like to refer you to that commercial where the woman says, "Recently I read an online article, well, I read the majority of an article..." I think this represents the majority of us Americans. I at least know it represents me).

Ok, I'll admit I feel a little badly saying all this because this woman can be nice. She and my mom know each other, and once when Mom and I were in there, we were looking for a book that hadn't been released yet, but she gave us the ARC. It was really nice of her to do this, which is why I feel like even more of a jerk for following that statement up with: I doubt she read the book herself, and was just grateful someone would end up reading it.

Now that I've ranted, I would like to direct you back to the title of this post "Haters to the Left." As someone who has proven to be a "hater" by bashing the bookstore lady, I will now take a step to the left.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Hello friends! I just want to tell you about a great blog that I am now the blog coordinator for. It's called ParaYourNormal, and every week they have interviews with paranormal and urban fantasy writers, including author giveaways and guest blog posts. I highly encourage you to check out their Blog, and you can also follow them on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Exclusive Interview With...Me!

Hey everyone! My latest ebook, Witches in the Holy City is available for sale at, and it will soon be up at Amazon. In honor of its release, I have written a silly interview of myself for your entertainment. I hope you enjoy!

Question: So tell us about your new ebook.
Shawn C. Sproatt: It takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s about a College of Charleston student named Lorelei who is a witch, but she was raised by her non-magical aunt who she looks to as a mother figure. Lorelei’s cousin/sister, Julie, who also goes to CofC starts dating a type of warlock known as a sorcerer, and they have a reputation for being dangerous. Julie knows that her boyfriend, Adam, is a sorcerer, and she insists that he’s not like the rest. Lorelei, on the other hand, doesn’t trust Adam, and she refuses to stand by if Julie’s life is in danger. The only problem is, sorcerers (a term used for both men and women)  are more powerful than regular witches and warlocks, so a dangerous situation involving Adam presents itself she won’t be able to properly protect her sister. Through a trusted friend she meets Ethan who is a good sorcerer, and he makes sure the rest of the sorcerers in town stay out of trouble. So Ethan agrees to help Lorelei keep an eye on Julie, and during the process Julie ends up falling for Ethan.
Question: If it takes place in South Carolina, then how does the “Holy City” aspect of the title fit in?
SCS: That’s Charleston’s nickname, because of the prominence of the church steeples in the city’s skyline.
Question: Neat! What made you decide to set your story in Charleston?
SCS: I went to college there, and I always thought it would be a great setting for a book. It’s a sort of small town, but it still has an urban feel. Plus with all of the old churches, houses, and mansions it has a lot of interesting, and scandalous history.
Question: You’ve been promising this book for about two months now, why did it take you so long to release it?
SCS: It has been a hectic summer! Things were going well with the book, but then right at the end of June I decided to take the GRE in case I decide to go to grad school. In addition to spending a lot of (wasted) time studying for it, certain aspects of the plot kept changing. So if I spent a day writing a solid ten pages to the newer version of the story, then about seven more would have to get cut, because they were no longer relevant.
Question: Sounds frustrating.
SCS: It sure was! It literally felt like I was making no progress, even though I was.
Question: I’ve been told that this is an updated version of a novel you wrote back in early 2010. How different is this from the original version?
SCS: It’s incredibly different. In fact, in the original version Ethan wasn’t even a character! This book has evolved numerous times, because when I first started writing it, it was actually about vampires! I’m not really a vampire fan (never have been), but I was desperate to get noticed by a literary agent, and since vampire novels were so huge at the time I figured if I “gave the public what it wanted” then I’d get noticed. But I realized two major flaws with this. One: the publishing world is slow, and if I was lucky enough to catch the eye of an agent who wasn’t sick of getting submissions dealing with vampires, and the book was published, it wouldn’t hit shelves for at least a year when vampires might not be as popular (newsflash literary agents/publishers: vampire stories have been popular ever since the 1800’s, and their popularity isn’t going to run out any time soon). The second thing I realized was that I hated writing about vampires, and when I told people about what I was working on I would internally cringe, because I could see in their eyes that they were assuming I was trying to write a book exactly like the popular vamp books that were already out there. So I decided if I couldn’t stand by what I was writing then I needed to change it to something I could be proud of.
Question: But even after you took out the vampire aspect, wasn’t it still like those other books out there?
SCS: I’m ashamed to say that in a way, yes. It had too many scenes that were meant to build the romance between Lorelei and Ethan, so there wasn’t a whole lot of plot or action happening. Plus, Ethan’s character was more of a bad-boy with a heart of gold type, and I really wasn’t happy with him. I didn’t want to write a character who’d committed all these heinous acts, but since it happened way in the past and he was sorry for it, Lorelei could forgive him for it. No, that didn’t work for me.
Question: But Shawn, isn’t that what makes a character complex?
SCS: Sure, but I didn’t want to give readers the wrong impression. I’m really sick of seeing supernatural characters with shady pasts get away with what they did only because they were supernatural. Would people feel the same way about a regular, human serial killer?
Question: I guess you’ll just have to let the readers decide that. So this book is the first in a series of how many?
SCS: Three. Right now all of my “series” are actually trilogies, because I think if I write any more than three books for each series, then I would end up stretching the plot out just for the sake of writing another Holy City or Supernatural High book.
Question: Speaking of Supernatural High, when can we expect the next installment in that trilogy?
SCS: Just like with Holy City, I’ve been promising the second Supernatural High book for a while now. In fact, I think it’s supposed to be out by now! Jeez, I’ve been breaking so many promises lately I might as well be a politician! But it’s probably going to be October at the earliest for the next Supernatural High book.
Question: So other than Holy City and Supernatural High, what else are you working on?
SCS: I’m working on another young adult fantasy book that I’ve actually been developing for ten years now.
Question: Holy Moley, that’s a long time to work on a manuscript!
SCS: Well, it’s actually only been a manuscript for about six years now, and it has gone through serious revisions. I’m about halfway through with the latest version, and I’m really happy with it so far.
Question: I look forward to it! Shawn, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer all of my questions. You’ve been a real sport.
SCS: It was my pleasure! I look forward to the next interview. You can also learn more about my books and me at my website