AUTHOR: Shawn Simon
BOOK TITLE: Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing
BUY LINK: (Not released yet, but check out my blog at stepmomshawn.com)
Please tell us about yourself-
I am a stepmom to two wonderful kids. I now have a loving, easy relationship with them, but at first this was not the case. The role of stepmom was not nearly as easy as I thought it would be. I foolishly thought being a stepmom would be a breeze because I work with kids. In the beginning, these two children did not want me around. Furthermore, there was no help to be found, which is what prompted me to write my book.
Please tell us your latest news-
As I’m waiting for the early 2016 release of my first book, I’ve been working on my second book, Stories from Stepdads. I’m interviewing stepdads about their experiences with their step kids.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I wish I could be a full time writer, but I’m not in a position at this point to be able to do that. Because of that, organizing my writing time is challenging. One thing I want to create is a quiet, private space in my house for my writing. I’m also working on finding dedicated days/times for writing and blogging.
When and why did you begin writing?
There has always been a part of me that wanted to write a book, but I was never certain of what I would write about. But, when I began sharing stories of my experiences as a new stepmom, people started saying, “You tell inspirational stories! You should write a book!” So, I did.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My step kids inspired me. All those experiences, both challenging and heartwarming, made me want to write to help others. I found no support. The only books I found were self-help books or how-to books. I just wanted to hear about other stepmoms who had struggled, but came through, stronger and better for their experiences.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I’m a Board Certified Educational Therapist; I work privately with children of all ages who have learning challenges. I also love to read, hang out with my husband and step kids, and I love walking my two small fur boys.
What are your thoughts about promotion?
Promotion is essential for getting the word out about my book. I have been building an audience over the last several months by blogging, tweeting and posting on Facebook. I’m hoping to build a good following in time for my early 2016 book release.
What was the toughest criticism given to you?
I’m so new to this that I haven’t received too much criticism yet, but I have been participating in online critique groups and have gotten invaluable advice. The writers on this site are definitely making me a better writer. I have received advice on how to make my writing less wordy and tighter, and on how to make it come to life. It’s been incredibly helpful.
What was the biggest compliment?
I have been told that my stories are inspirational and well written.
Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
Absolutely! As I said, the advice I’m getting from these critiques is definitely making me a better writer.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Even though I am writing other people’s true life experiences, I still have to turn their interviews into stories. So, yes, I do sometimes have writer’s block. I have times when I just do not feel the creativity needed to write. I get through it, by forcing myself to write. I just joined a meet-up group called “Shut Up and Write!” It’s a group of writers who meet once a week to just write for one hour. That has been so helpful!
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I’ve learned that I am not alone with my struggles as a stepmom. Hearing these other women’s stories has been so therapeutic for me.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is 4RV Publishing. I found them online. They are a small publisher that takes unsolicited manuscripts.
What is your marketing plan?
This is a good question, because I do not have one. Aside from blogging, “Face-booking”, and twittering, I have no other plan. I have been talking to book stores and wineries about doing book signings and book talks. I’m hoping that 4RV will help me in this area as well. I’m open to any ideas or suggestions from other writers out there!
What are your current projects?
My latest project is my book for stepdads. Following that, I plan to write a book for people who are or have been step kids. I want to surround the topic of stepfamilies.
What do you plan for the future?
To keep on writing. I am now hooked on writing. I absolutely love it!
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
My Facebook is: Stepmom Shawn Simon Says
Twitter is: @Shawnsimon44
Tell me a little about your book-
Stepping Into A New Role, Stories From Stepmoms, is a book that eliminates the notion of the “evil stepmother” from the past. That story may be old, but sadly nothing has come along to replace it, even though there are so many blended families in our society. This book is a collection of true stories from real stepmoms navigating their way through the trials and tribulations and the rewards and successes of helping to raise someone else’s children.
What gave you the idea for this particular book?
As I shared my stepmom experiences with others, I often heard, “You should write a book!” So, I started writing my stories. Then, a friend suggested I add other stepmoms stories, and I liked that idea.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Support, encouragement, ideas, direction, and inspiration
What about your book makes it special?
There’s nothing like it out there!
Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
I don’t have any specific tips, but I will say that if someone has the desire and passion to write, they should absolutely pursue it and not let fear or doubt hold them back.
What books have most influenced your life?
My favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird, Broken for You, The Girl with the Pearl Earring, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Secret Life of Bees, Shiloh, and many more.
However, the book that influenced me to write my books is The Single Girl’s Guide to marrying a Man, His children, and His Ex-Wife. This was the closest I could find to a support, encouragement type book, rather than a self-help book.
What seven words would you use to describe yourself?
Fun, silly, smart, friendly, sometimes impatient, genuine, and warm.
Shortly after I moved in with my new husband and his two children, I decided that I wanted to try to be the best stepmom ever. I never wanted to hear those dreaded words, “You’re not my mom! You can’t tell me what to do! “ So, I started asking friends for advice and suggestions. I also got online to find good step-parenting advice books. There wasn’t a huge selection, but I did find some. I don’t like reading self-help books, per se. I prefer reading stories. But, I was desperate for help and all I could find at that time were self help books, so I thought I’d buy a few. My husband came home and found me upstairs on the computer, and asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was buying books to help me navigate my way as a stepmom. He looked at the computer and my “shopping cart” and said, “Six books? You think you need six books?” I argued, “Well, I want to be the best stepmom I can be!” He said he understood, but suggested I start with maybe two books and go from there.
A few months later, a friend and fellow stepmom told me about a book by Sally Bjornson, called The Single Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife”. That book became my “bible”. It is a funny, heartfelt book about one woman’s journey as a stepmom. One part in particular resonated with me and became a catalyst for me writing this book. She said something along the lines of, “When a woman gets married, she is given a wedding shower, and when she gets pregnant, she is given a baby shower, but when she marries a man with kids, she is given a bottle of wine and told, ‘Good luck!’” This is so true! No one tells you what you are in for. No one has sage, helpful advice. In fact, no one really talks about this mysterious role of stepmom at all. This is so odd to me as more than half the families out there are “blended” families in some way. The traditional family barely exists anymore, yet the topic of step-parenting still seems to be taboo in some way.