This Post is a Bunch of Ads.

Holy smokes, check it out! Three posts in a row! How’s that for a comeback? I haven’t gotten the new computer yet, but the boyfriend’s schedule has me waiting in the back room at work this past weekend, and I wanted to make sure I take advantage of it in whatever way I can. But today we’re going to be delving into everyone’s favorite pastime: shameless plugs.

The first one is a pretty important one, though. We’re in the middle of summer, which means it’s really time to put the petal to the metal and get the word out about World Unknown Review Volume III! The deadline for the 2016 edition of my fledgling little toddler literary journal is October 31st, so, technically, there’s plenty of time, but it never hurts to be on top of things, right? I’m looking for a little bit of everything, including novellas, but, for a good idea of what sorts of things I’ve been publishing, you can check out Volumes I and II here and here! Digital copies are only 99 cents, and the paperback versions are pretty reasonable, too, so why not check them out? You’ll discover a lot of really fantastic authors and stories…and then have the chance to be one of those fantastic authors yourself!

And that brings me into my next point, a humble plea for my readers here to consider checking out any of the above or following books. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I made a vow to myself that I would sell at least one copy of a book every month. I figured it would be a pretty low-ball, easy goal to maintain, but the lack of a computer has made it difficult. I’m not going to really get back into the marketing heavily until next month, since we’re almost done with July (what? HOW?), but, hey, if you want to help with that one sale for this month, that would be pretty sweet. We’ve got either of the WURs listed above, or you could check out my zombie apocalypse series, The Slayer Saga, which starts with Soulless, continues with Heartless, and will conclude next year with Soulless. Or check out more short stories with my collection, Bowlful of Bunnies. Don’t let the cutesy title and cover fool you! These are definitely grown-up size stories.

Has anyone had a chance to pick up the latest issue of Ghostlight, the Magazine of Terror from the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writiers yet? I’ve got a story about zombies (I like zombies okay?) in it, and fellow WUR writer S.L. Dixon has a great story about “skitters” in there, too. It’s definitely worth a look!

So that’s what I’ve got to shamelessly plug at the moment. And, since one good turn deserves another, what have you all got to plug these days?

Lost and Found.

To be honest, I’m surprised I ever thought it would work. When my last laptop putzed out on me months ago, I thought I could squeeze out a system of using the computers available at my job every once in a while to update my blog, type up some stories, send some stories out, that sort of thing. The writing work took over the blog work, since time was limited, but things were going pretty well. I got a lot of stories out, got some decent edits in on some older stories, saving them onto a zip drive that also allowed me to use my boyfriend’s parents’ computer when we visited. All was going pretty well, until…

…I lost it. It was this little tiny thing, no bigger than my thumb, in a bright green casing. Anyone who knows me is probably impressed that it took me this long to misplace it. There’s a chance I might have left it at the eventual in-laws’ place, but my bet is that I left it plugged into the computer at work, and it is now long, long gone, swiped up by someone who wasn’t kind enough to leave it with customer service. Which is really lame because my name, address, phone number, and email are at the top of every single document on that drive, so it’s not like it would be that difficult for the person to track down who it belonged to.

So, the time has come (the Walrus said) to buckle down and get a new laptop, since the previous method wasn’t exactly the best after all. It’s going to be a cheap chromebook again, because, really, that’s all I need right now, a place to save all my work and maybe email and submit it all out to various journals and what not. Hopefully, it also means I’ll be blogging a bit more, too.

It’s going to put a lovely ding in the money I’ve been working on saving up, but what’s that they say? You have to spend money to make money? Yeah, I’ve got the spending part down. Now if I could only get a better grip on the latter.

The Case of the Disappearing Blog.

Well, hello there, strangers. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Don’t worry; I assure you that I’m still out there, somewhere, scribbling words and losing track of too many ideas. And I’m back for another attempt to breathe life back into my blog and my web presence, in the flailing struggle that has ensued since my computer died several months ago. You never realize how dependent you are on one of those things until you don’t have regular access to one, and how easy they can make your life! I’m still computerless due to a very tight budget, but I realized I needed to start focusing on getting some traction here online again, especially with the start of World Unknown Review submission season coming up.

On the bright side, I haven’t been completely slacking off in the meantime. What time used to be spent blogging and reading other people’s blogs has been spent writing lots and lots and lots of stories. This has easily been my most productive writing time I’ve had in a while, getting out about a new story every week, while also touching up on various novels (including, of course, the very delayed Fearless). So productive, in fact, that I’ve finally scored myself a publication credit for this year! Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know that I’ve had my short story, “Sleepwalker,” accepted for publication in Alban Lake Press’s Potter’s Field Six. I’m super stoked because this particular story took a very special place in my heart, pulling at all my emotions and allowing me to really step into the skin of another person for a little bit, which is truly the crux of really great storytelling.

Speaking of Facebook, I have also been more active on social media, thanks to the convenience of smartphone apps. It’s just so much easier to post stuff to Facebook or Instagram than to write up a blog post from my phone! So I definitely invite anyone who’s interested to connect with me there. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat (username lsengler, of course!). I’m more active on some than others…I’m looking at you, Tumblr. But, please, let’s connect and be friends! It’s a much more efficient way for me to keep in touch with everyone at the moment.

That said, I want to get back to my interviews and featured stories soon, especially to help promote World Unknown Review Volume III, which is definitely accepting submissions right now and would love to see what you have.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to check in, say hi, be productive in my work computer time to drop off a post while I try to find out where my zip drive with all my stories disappeared to, since that’s kind of important right now. I’m trying not to have a panic attack, because there’s a lot of work on that little guy, and I bet I left it here one day. Whoopsies!

How’s everyone else doing? I feel like it’s been ages!

An Interview with Shan Jeniah Burton. [WUR 2015]

We are well overdue for an interview with May’s featured WUR author, Shan Jeniah Burton, considering that we’re already into May! Thanks a lot, computer and smelly crew room! We’ll be switching up the featured story soon, but you still have a few more days to read Shan’s story, “Monday Morning Coffee” before the new one sweeps in. And I’ve finally gotten a chance to put together the questions I’ve asked her back in May to share with my readers, so grab yourself a nice cup of coffee, settle in, and come meet a wonderfully warm and kind member of the World Unknown family. Finally!

We’ll start with the (perhaps not so) simple: Who is Shan Jeniah Burton?

Words only hint at my light and shadows, but here are a few you can play with: writer, mother, adventurer, wife, reader, seeker, learner, mentor, partner, intuitive, delver, playful spirit, ambassador, advocate, strewer of joy, singer, sensualist, awakening, passionate, faithful, spontaneous, strong, daring, caring. I’m still learning who I am when all the roles fall away, and I’m alone with myself…and that’s where most of my writing is born.

How did you discover the World Unknown Review, and what inspired you to submit your story, “Monday Morning Coffee”?

Through ROW80, an online community of writers supporting one another as we set and work toward our personal goals. I took a chance and submitted “A Splash of Red” to the 2014 inaugural edition of WUR and was accepted. It was a natural follow-up to submit “Monday Morning Coffee” in 2015.

And I’m super glad you did! I love how real and familiar the snowy train station platform that sets your tale feels. It’s a place I imagine most of us have been before. Was the story more inspired by actual events or flight of fancy?

It’s something of both. I’ve had a seed idea of a homeless man since I was a teenager. That blended with the coffee kiosks in my husband’s native Oregon and a family trip to Washington, D.C. I also enjoy watching people and the way they interact with one another, especially in crowded places like transit stations. Being native to upstate New York makes me very familiar with winter weather. These disparate threads wove together to create “Monday Morning Coffee.”

“Monday Morning Coffee” really stood out among the other submissions I received last year for its optimistic, humanitarian outlook. I’ll admit, though, a small cynical part of me felt it was like one of those “TOTALLY true stories” you see on the Internet, though you told it with a wonderful control of language and emotion. What would you say to cynics who might roll their eyes at Rose’s life-changing encounter?

Things are not always just as they seem. There’s more to both Rose and Jeremy than shows on the surface. They’re pretty cagy right now, but I’m good at waiting out my characters until they drop their guard, then poking around their lives to expose what’s beneath… *insert evil writer laugh*

I feel most people have the capacity for this type of change. It just takes the proper catalyst at the right time. This is Rose’s moment, with Jeremy the catalyst who shakes her awake. But, remember, there’s more to the story….

And maybe one day you’ll share those stories, too! Can you, personally, fold a newspaper like Jeremy can?

Umm….I used to be pretty good was good at folding dinner napkins… =) Origami and other paper art fascinate me. The imagery for Jeremy’s thorny rose has been with me for over a decade, waiting for its moment.

Who would play your main characters in a film version of “Monday Morning Coffee”?

Jeremy could only be Alan Alda, circa M*A*S*H. He has those piercing blue eyes, and the right manner. It’s possible I unknowingly had him in my head when I wrote Jeremy.

This story came from inside Rose’s head, and she’s not interested in her own looks, so she’s a little trickier. I’m thinking either China Beach era Dana Delaney, or Mare Winningham circa Turner and Hooch. They both portray the compassionate introversion that Rose requires.

Who are your biggest writing influences?

My tastes are rather eclectic. I love Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Jordan, and Robert Heinlein. I’ve spent a good deal of time with Taylor Caldwell, Colleen McCullough, and Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged. Sue Monk Kidd inspires me, fictionally and otherwise. The way Paul Simon writes music awes me with it’s lovely economy. There are many others, but I see you’ve got other questions here, so I’ll restrain myself. =)

It’s so funny, because I can really see all those influences in what I’ve read from you, both in fiction and on your blog. Tell us about the last book you read.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I reread it every so often – it always offers nuggets of wisdom and insight, wherever I am in my life. It’s got the timeless quality of the ocean, swept clean of excess. It’s a little, lovely gift I give to myself again and again.

What’s next for Shan Jeniah Burton?

Another cup of coffee. Wait, that’s not really what you meant, is it?

No, but that’s still a great answer!

Spring is my creative season. I’ll be drafting two new novels in my Kifo Island Chronicles series-in-progress soon, revising other projects, and, hopefully, adding to Rose and Jeremy’s story. In less exciting news, this is also a paperwork intensive period for our homeschooling, so I’m glad I’ve got other, livelier projects to spice things up.

Where might we be able to find more of your work?

I’ve got short stories, poetry, and essays popping up at my brand new website, ShanJeniah’s Lovely Chaos. It’s a little bare still, like a freshly tilled garden, but things will be sprouting over the next few weeks. Of course, “A Splash of Red” is in World Unknown Review Volume I, and I will be exploring self-publication with that story later this year. I also expect to submit to WUR 2016 in the next months, so, if all goes well, you might be able to find me there, too.

I also indulge my passion for allegedly fictional people with green blood and pointed ears over at fanfiction.net. If you like that type of thing, check me out – it’s all free, and always will be!

I can’t wait to see what you bring to the table for Volume III, Shan! Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that I’m glad we had the chance to chat – this was fun! Thanks, L.S.!

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So there you have it! It’s always a delight to check in on Shan, so I hope you do the same, give her a follow, and see what other great stories of hope and unexpected beauty she delves out to us in the future.

Happy reading!

Fun While it Lasted…

So, my grand scheme of getting to do some work and writing and blogging on the team member computers in the back room of my place of employment while waiting for my boyfriend to finish his shifts since we’re carpooling at the moment has not been working out very well. It’s been a good two weeks since my last post, and there are two very good reasons for that. One is that I haven’t had a chance to get to the library lately, and two is that there has been a God awful, terrible, horrible, disgusting smell emanating from the sink back here every since time I try to sit and get something done. It’s clearly a lack of maintenance on the garbage disposal back here, but it was absolutely vile and there was no way I was going to try to plow through a post or some editing with that lingering in my nostrils.

Needless to say, it seems someone has finally gotten around to cleaning the damn thing and I can breathe easily, shoot off some emails, (finally) start typing the next featured story from World Unknown Review Volume II, submit some stories, and prove to you all that I’m still alive, really. It feels good to get something done for a change!

Well, no, that’s not necessarily true. As much as I’m missing being able to connect as much online, as much as I feel like a total slacker by not putting myself out there, this No Computer thing has been one of the best things to happen to my writing in a very long time. I’m getting up early still, but instead of juggling reading, writing, and computer stuff as I did before, I’m just reading and writing, and I am getting so much done. I’ve gone back to working on a butt-ton of projects, something I stopped doing back in 2012 so that I could finished Soulless. I’ve not only continued work on Heartless and Rosewood Manor, but I’ve started a handful of new exciting books, several stories to meet June deadlines, and even started and finished a whole complete story in one morning one time. I don’t think I’ve ever written this much and this consistently in a long time…or EVER. It’s so exciting and I’m itching to get to share some of what I’ve been working on with people.

So there’s definitely a silver lining here. Perhaps I’m just not meant to be one of those independent authors always out and about with their fans, but rather someone a bit more quiet and low-key, popping up on occasion, but mostly just focusing on writing a shit ton of really neat stuff.

What to Write?

One of the most profound struggles I have regarding this blog and my current computer-less status is that I feel that, whenever I do have access to a computer at work while waiting for my boyfriend to finish his shift, I know I should use the time to write up a post, but I very rarely feel I have anything I could write about. It doesn’t help that this time is usually after a seven or eight hour shift of my own, leaving me a bit brain dead and dumb. But there are always little updates and tidbits I could throw together, to just let everyone know I’m still here and chugging along.

Actually, the lack of a computer has been a bit of a blessing. Without the distractions of the blog or emails in my morning routine, I’m churning out some amazing stuff. I’m going through some older notebooks and breathing new life into old stories left by the wayside while I worked on The Slayer Saga.

Speaking of The Slayer Saga, I’m afraid Fearless is definitely going to be delayed until next year. Not only am I lacking in finances to cover the costs of producing it right now, but I didn’t meet my deadlines for my draft, and, while I could probably still “get it done in time,” I know I wouldn’t be pleased with the results. I’d rather take the time to make it the best conclusion to the series I possibly could than just get something out because I set an arbitrary deadline for myself. My readers, few as they are, deserve the best book I can give them, even if that means waiting until 2017.

That leaves me to try to decide if I should put together some of the short stories I’ve been having trouble placing in another collection, thus keeping up with the “two publications a year” goal I set back in 2012, or if I should just forget restrictions and just publish things when they want to be published.

World Unknown Review will still continue as usual. I’ve already got a few stories trickling in, and hopefully a lot more when I start to promote it more later in the summer. If you’ve got some stories hanging around, send them my way! We’d love to give them a look.

And, apparently, Sinead O’Connor went missing and was then promptly found today in Illinois. It was the weirdest little blip of news, and I didn’t even know she lived out here.

So, there’s some little bits and blurbs for the moment. How’s everyone else been doing? Read any good books or stories lately?

Engler, Unplugged.

Due to my current computer conundrum, I feel it necessary to get a post up on the time I have before my boyfriend gets out of work to usurp the employee computers to get a post up while I can. At first, though, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have much to say, but, even if I don’t, saying something is better than nothing.

Besides, I do have something to say. It was almost another rant about the annoyances that go hand-in-hand with a customer service job (I honestly thought I was free from that obnoxious kid who just shouts at everything, but nooooo), but I’ve already forgotten what specific irritation had me thinking, “I should blog about this later.” Instead, I want to take a moment and marvel at how much more productive I’ve been now that I’m not in front of a computer nearly as much as I used to.

I’ll admit, I hit a bit of a rough spot last night. Being disconnected makes me feel like the world is spinning along without me, leaving me behind, and I had a pretty strong bout of depression centered on feeling useless, unproductive, and generally wasting my time with this whole writing nonsense. Part of me cannot relinquish the feeling that, by postponing the release date of Fearless, I have failed insurmountably. But the thing is that I haven’t. The thing is, the final product is going to be much, much better for it. It sucks to miss a deadline, but the series will get more of the ending it (and its few sparse fans!) deserve.

Despite that down spell last night, I actually have been probably three times as much writing as I was before, and that’s awesome. This time online is going to be wonderful for doing what I was really lacking: creating content. I’ve started digging up all my hundreds of notebooks and breathing new life into old projects while still plugging at some of the others. I managed to churn out seven pages of a new ghost-related short story (or novella? novel? Who knows?) this morning. Seven pages in one sitting is absolutely unprecedented for me. But without the distraction of emailing or blogging and only a little social media on my phone, I’m doing some really great stuff.

It will be a while before I have the resources for a new machine, but I think it’s going to be a very, very productive while indeed.