Monday, September 18, 2023

The Name Game


"They say we die twice - once when the last breath leaves our body and once when the last person we know says our name." Al Pacino

What’s in a name? In books, as in life, a lot. 

My first name originated with my mom’s best friend, Sharon Lindsay, which led to a funny full circle of monikers because my favorite childhood actress was the Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner. I mean, what little girl didn’t want to jump from rooftops with a kinetic soundtrack punctuating every epic action? I wished my first name was Lindsay ever after. Eventually, I married a man, attaching the end of my superhero’s last name to create Sharon Wagner.

My friend Danielle asked me why I chose Esme for my main character in The Levitation Game. Well, I have a sprawling answer for that. My first novel, Chorus of Crows, revolves around a retired farmer who battles Parkinson’s and unwanted visitors that may or may not be real. It’s a horror story. I named my character after Stephen King’s favorite uncle, Oren. Growing up, my mother loved The Waltons on television, so I called the character Oren Walton. Since my dad’s battle with Parkinson’s inspired my novel, I gave a nod to Michael J. Fox (who also has Parkinson’s) in my second novel and named my central character Esme, after the actor’s daughter.

All my books will pay tribute to my friends and family, onscreen and off. I’ve weaved many real-life names into my stories. Ethelene, a character in The Levitation Game, is named after my Aunt Ethel. Plus, I loved the character Etheline from the Wes Anderson movie The Royal Tenenbaums. I have a cousin named Lavinia, so I used that name in a book. Do you remember Matthew’s ill-fated love interest, Lavinia, in Downton Abbey? I remember and have loved it ever since.

My character, Sedona, from Chorus of Crows, is a nod to the beautiful southwestern city, and the town also plays an integral part in the story. The most fun I’ve had with naming a character so far is the name Owletta from The Savannah Book of Spells. I made it up entirely because the character looks like an owl. Sometimes, it’s fun to be an author! Well, I could go on and on. It’s one of the great joys of writing books, naming characters that become beloved fictional family members.

Fun blurbs and reviews are rolling in, and I’ve been sharing them on social media. Dawn C. won a free Conspiracy Theory game by sharing my content on Instagram. Neddy Games has given away almost 500 dollars worth of free games to my newsletter subscribers. So subscribe to win.

My book finally launches next month. Hooray!

Look to your inbox on October 23rd for my Halloween newsletter. 

"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."

— John F. Kennedy.

 Sharon Wagner Books


Monday, August 21, 2023

Summer Scaries

I’ve always considered August as summer’s third act when the fun and sun are fleeting and the end of something magical is near. That’s how I feel about my life right now. I’m leaving a season of innocence and literary elation and entering a phase of life that terrifies me. The launch of The Levitation Game has been pushed to October 17th to collect enough reviews and blurbs to feather my word nest. (I’m sorry for the delay!) But reviews horrify me. Will my book soar? Or will my spirit wither from the jabs of a thousand feisty quills? I never had to worry about such things as a children’s book illustrator.

All authors go through this. I love writing enough to brave the unknown. I must persevere because I’m writing two other books that excite me. But how do authors cope with bad reviews? Recently, I read The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay. I loved the movie Knock at the Cabin, crafted from Paul’s book. Indeed, the concept involving the four horsemen of the Apocalypse on a mission to disrupt the lives of a family and a cute little girl named Wen was intriguing. At first, the book pulled me in, only to leave me struggling to reach the end of a scene that was supposed to be nail-biting. That’s when I investigated Goodreads and discovered that other readers felt the same way. One surly individual left a firey trail of GIFs, including one with the white-bearded, handsome, and worldly Dos Equis actor shaking his head in complete exasperation. Perhaps, after M. Night Shyamalan created an exciting movie from Paul’s book the GIF doesn’t sting. Or does it? I feel potential shivers travel the length of my spine at the thought of mean-spirited GIFs.

 In fabulous otherworldly news, I received a fun book blurb!

 “A buoyant story of contact and connection, filled with levity and adventure.”

- Emily Jane, bestselling author of On Earth as it Is on Television

You can check out Emily’s book above. I love her cover. And the book is out-of this-world! Plus, Katie S. won a free Conspiracy Theory board game for sharing an early review on Goodreads. Thanks to Neddy Games for their ongoing freebies. Subscribers can win by sharing my bookish content on social media.

Subscribe by September 18th  to receive my next newsletter.


Sharon Wagner Books

Monday, July 17, 2023

Are You A Food Waste Warrior?

A hotdog wrapped in a cornmeal pancake. 

I’m an Electric Speed subscriber, and last month, writing guru Jane Friedman posed a non-literary question, inquiring about her readers' best cheapskate practices. “I eat my leftovers!” I said immediately to no one in particular.

Food waste, not at my house. In South Korea, throwing away food is illegal.

Later that day, during my writing critique group on Discord, my writing peep Rodney admitted that my submission had ignited his taste buds for strawberries (In my story, the characters were shopping at a farmer’s market in South Carolina with dewy, rainbow-colored produce). I was so happy! Because writing about food puts the sizzle in my storytelling. Last month, I talked about birds as literary inspiration, and the culinary arts also inspired my novel. I could wax poetic about food like a shiny supermarket apple, but I’ll simply offer my best practices for eating my leftovers:


1)   Shred the chicken from a supermarket rotisserie, freeze the bones in a jumbo Ziploc, and when you’ve compiled an entire henhouse of skeletons, make 1-2 giant pots of fragrant broth. Bones and water transform into gold; you don’t need Rumpelstiltskin.

2)   Leftover cornmeal pancakes become buttery hotdog wrappers or fluffy tostadas for taco night. Tasty tip: If you wrap a campfire hotdog with a piece of potato lefse, you’ll never return to a wonderbread bun.

3)   Leftover chicken satay has become the perfect topper for my famous Thai pizzas. But any leftover chicken will do. Combine peanut butter and soy sauce for the pizza sauce, then add mozzarella and parmesan. Top with chicken, diced carrots, and thinly sliced peppers. Don’t forget to sprinkle cilantro and minced peanuts on top after it’s baked. I use small flour tortillas as a quick pizza crust.

4)   I freeze leftover carnitas, chorizo, or taco meat for nachos. Nachos rule! The same goes for Mexican restaurant chips and excess taco sauce packets. I use them on nachos, too.

5)   Chop and freeze old celery, peppers, and carrots as an instant soup starter. The same goes for berries. Freeze them and put them in pancakes later. Throw leftover tomatoes into a blender and freeze them, too.

6)   Put leftover fried rice into a big pot of homemade wonton soup. See the broth above! Trader Joe's has good frozen wontons; don’t forget to add candied ginger.

7)   Do you have leftover potato oles from Taco John's? I call them crack because even Walter White couldn’t create a more addictive drug. If the DEA knocks on your door, throw the evidence into a veggie, ham, and cheese frittata.

8)  Do you have a dab of vegetables left from dinner? Freeze them and keep adding leftover vegetable sides to the bag, and eventually, you can add the vegetables to a pot of homemade soup.

9)   You can throw leftover ketchup packets into chili. Chocolate and molasses are good in chili, too. 😊

10)  Do you have an abundance of basil in your herb patch? Make a BBT = A bacon, basil, and tomato sandwich. Yum! I hope I’ve inspired you to eat your leftovers!

I received a tasty literary appetizer last month when my first printed book arrived in the mail. Things just got real. Subscribe and look to your inbox on August 21st for my next newsletter.

           “Unless you are a pizza, the answer is yes, I can live without you.” -Bill Murray

Sharon Wagner Books


Monday, June 19, 2023

Birds of a Feather


“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” James Allen

 Emily Dickinson wrote that hope is the thing with feathers, and every debut author hopes they’ll find the perfect thermal to help their literary dreams soar. Feathers and fingers crossed.

 Recently, I read about a fun experiment that taught parrots to FaceTime new feathered friends. The parrots loved their parrot-to-parrot video-calling system and could peck at a screen line-up of birds like an old-school gym class picking candidates for a team. How did the parrots feel when they didn’t get selected? Lousy. I would know from personal gym experience!

 I don’t consider myself a birder. Still, birds are always on the fringe of my consciousness. I hear them, even when I can’t see them. I find a closed window, a form of imprisonment, and an open window, the gateway to chatter and birdsong that punctuates my life. When I travel to Costa Rica, the mewling song of the toucan is ubiquitous and soothing. In Florida, finding a sleeping osprey on the railing of my balcony is like avian nirvana. But there’s no yin without yang because birds on the balcony leave poop. Good and bad experiences are almost always intertwined. Every radiant peacock feather has a pointy end.

 While writing my novel, I discovered that being a bird brain is considered a compliment. That’s because I read The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman while writing and, believe it or not, used the book as research for my paranormal sci-fi novel. My alien protagonist, Dob-Dec, loves birds, and even though he isn’t impressed with human brains, he thinks that bird brains are very significant and intelligent for their diminutive size. I do too. The intelligence of birds is a thread throughout my novel, and if my book had a soundtrack, it would be the exotic, undulating whoop of an oropendola. As an author, I hope to have a career as varied as the song of mockingbirds. I want every novel to have a different genre or melody.

 And don’t get me started on the beauty of birds. And speaking of flight, my ARC copies are flying into the inboxes of early readers, blurbing authors, and book review websites. Keep your fingers and feathers crossed that my book garners some good peeps and chatter! My next newsletter flies into your inbox on July 17.

 “Each day has a story that deserves to be told, because we are made of stories. I mean, scientists say that human beings are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are also made of stories.” Eduardo Galeano

Visit Sharon Wagner Books!





Monday, May 22, 2023

Blurb Your Enthusiasm!

Book blurbs are so crucial to authors that there’s even a book about book blurbs, and it’s called Blurb Your Enthusiasm by Louise Wilder. Here’s a blurb for Blurb Your Enthusiasm:

 ‘The bookiest book about books you’ll ever read – I loved it’ Lucy Mangan

 I didn’t make up the blurb above. It’s on the book’s Amazon page. I noticed other fun facts about this book:

1)     The initials spell the word BYE.

2)     When you say the initials out loud, you hear the word buy. What better word could an author hope for?

3)     Did you know that words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have another meaning are called homophones?

4)     The title is a take on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is funny, too!

5)     I haven’t read the book yet.


Last month, I edited my book until I was cross-eyed, sent it to my publisher with sweaty palms, and Ten16 Press formatted it into an ARC or an Advanced Reader Copy. I’ll wait by an unwound clock while early readers format blurbs and reviews. It’s a relief to wrap up the extensive editing process, but knowing that errors will stick to the pages like Cockleburs is frightening.

Plus, there will be blood, as in bad reviews. I bet some of you think I have the literary world by the tail (Tail and tale is another example of a homophone!), but most debut authors feel like a tadpole in an aquarium filled with sharks. It’s not the sharks that debut authors worry about but being too small to care to devour. Gulp.

 Look to your inbox for my next newsletter on June 19th, and subscribe to win!



 “We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming, our own consciousness in someone else’s mind.” — Anna Quindlen

Discover more at Sharon Wagner Books!


Monday, April 17, 2023

My Doppelganger is Revealed!

I doubt you’ve googled me, but if you have, chances are you've found my nemesis: Sharon Blythe Wagner, author of several Nancy Drew mysteries, popular horse books, gothic romance, and other miscellaneous young adult titles. How can I compete with such prolific publication? The other Sharon is one of the reasons I put supernatural in my title. Someday, I hope to outrank her unless a potential upstart comes along to supersede me. If this happens, I hope my new doppelganger writes nonfiction titles like How to Train Your House Centipede or 365-Day Colon Cleanse. The centipede book might have legs! 😊

Several years ago, I received my first fan letter. For a millisecond, I basked in unexpected fame and glory. I did illustrate several children’s books, and that’s worthy, right? Alas, no. The young fan loved my horse books, and I haven’t written or illustrated any horse books. You guessed it: Sharon Blythe Wagner. Damn!

But things aren’t all bad because you can check out my first author interview on writer Joie Lesin’s blog. She’s the author of The Passenger, a paranormal romance set in the California wine country that’s tasty and sweet. Look to my link party below for transportation. Thanks, Joie! She also won a Conspiracy Theory board game by being the first person to help promote my book online or on social media. You can win, too!

I plan to market my butt off. So, maybe I’ll receive a real fan letter someday. And speaking of butts, since my book cover depicts images of toilet paper and underwear, I picked the following quote to wrap things up.

 “I receive underwear - some clean, some not. No joke. My assistant who helps me with my fan mail constantly threatens to quit because of what we get sent.” Alex O'Loughlin

Look for my next newsletter on Monday, May 22. Be sure to mark it as not spam!

Discover more at  Sharon Wagner Books!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Energy Book Marks!


My book cover is out there, and preorders launched on March 1st at Ten16 Press! I attached the paperback and hardcovers links to my little green link party. Hopefully, you’ve had time to investigate the revolving door that is my website content.

What have I learned since signing with Ten16 Press? Publishing a book is not for the squeamish. Writing a book is the easy part. Last time, I told you I felt like Vincent Van Gogh before he loped off an ear while creating my forthcoming book jacket copy. Well, painting my book cover was just as hard. As a kid, I erased holes in my drawing paper while pursuing perfection. Painting my book cover was no different. Perfection didn’t happen. But I like how the colorful and comic art reflects my supernatural story in a far-out way. I mean, who else in the history of book covers has depicted toilet paper? Perhaps, none. My book isn’t serious, it is pure entertainment, and my cover reflects that. It represents a chaotic levitation scene inside the story, and since space plays an important part, I created an energy loop amidst the stars. I’ve been fascinated with energy vortices since I saw them inscribed on an ancient rock in Panama. But I’ve seen them here, in the southwest, too.

Indeed, traveling is a theme on my blog and in my books. I hope you’ll take a literary journey with me soon!

My friend Tammie won last month’s free Conspiracy Theory game by being my first preorder sale. She was lightning fast. But thanks to everyone who ordered a copy. And thanks to Kate at Neddy Games for sending 150 bucks worth of free fun!

Now, newsletter subscribers can win free Conspiracy Theory games by sharing my bookish content on social media. Look to your inbox for my next newsletter on April 17th.

Stay tuned!


“The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy.” Ezra Pound

Discover more at Sharon Wagner Books