Shean began writing in the 4th grade after spending her childhood voraciously reading fairy tales and fantasy. She credits Ursula K’ Le Guin’s, A Wizard of Earthsea in starting her on her writing journey. She finished writing her first novel when she was fourteen, as well as numerous short stories, all of which ended up in a box in her father’s garage. She believes they are still there.
Fate took her down a different path in her young adult years and she graduated from the Seattle Art Institute as a graphic designer. She has worked for advertising agencies, a book printing company, numerous printers, a high-end real estate company as their designer and was the creative manager for a guide dog school. In her twenties she attended the University of Missoula, studying psychology, and taking additional writing classes.
Shean is very happy to be returning to her first joy and pretty determined to follow its path.
In California she joined a critique group and started really writing again. She join the Palm Springs Writers Guild and won the October Writer’s Challenge in 2015 for Fifth of Nine.
Quite a lot happened in that first year when she returned to her writing. The most crucial was
being talked into writing a novella by a critique friend who had a masters in marketing. Shean had been working on an epic novel, but her friend suggested that if she completed a novella first, it could be used to generate interest and fans while she spent a longer chunk of her time working on the epic.
One thing led to another, and that novella ended up being a full book, The Feather and the Moon Well, which is the first of the series. But the exciting part is that, about the same time, she began taking online writing classes from David Farland, a NYT best selling fantasy author. Dave agreed to edit the book, and when it was finished, he chose it to be the debut novel to launch A David Farland Discovery Program for new writers. It was published by WordFire Press in April, 2016.
Shean attended numerous book signings, comicons in Salt Lake City, Seattle and Palm Springs, and got to spend a lot of time with Dave Farland. Which was a blessing because we lost him last year. Shean feels very honored to have had Dave as a writing mentor, and editor and a friend.
Shean is currently working on the second book in the series, The Nepha Lord’s Daughter. With any luck it will be published in 2024. She hopes you will sign up to receive an email notification when it is available.
The Journey To Success
I would like to tell you about my road to success. Also how an unpublished, and for the most part, untrained writer, is now launching her first book with the backing of a NYT best selling author.
I am on the success road, but it wasn’t an easy road. It took four years of very hard work, in addition to working a four-day a week job as a graphic designer.
I’m here to offer a good dose of reality. Writing is hard. I’m not just talking about getting up at four or five am every morning, before I go to work, to get my word goal in—and believe me, if you do not have this discipline inevitably something will come up to distract you. It won’t be long before you have stopped writing. I know, it’s happened to me many times.
But the difficulty I’m also talking about the rest of the hours learning how to create your own website, finding a good critique group that knows what it is doing, reading countless books on story craft. And I haven’t even scratched the surface on what it takes to market. I think I’ll leave that for another post.
So at the beginning of my story, I had not really written anything for over twenty years and I had never been published. I finally became serious, and joined a local writer’s guild. Then I joined a critique group, and a person in that group suggested we write novellas. That was a marketing tactic that allowed us to get some short time exposure and build fans while we wrote our larger epic novels. I thought it was a marvelous idea, as I was also beginning to learn about the self-publishing business. So I began to write that novella. It took me a year.
About that time I began taking online writing classes from David Farland.
David Farland is a NYT best selling author and coach. As a writing instructor, he has mentored dozens of New York Times bestselling authors, including Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), James Dashner (The Maze Runner), and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight).
As I got to know David through my online lessons, I finished my book and asked if he knew an editor. He asked me to send him the book, and he would consider editing it himself. I was very honored when he agreed to take it on. It took about eight months of work between the two of us and that novella turned into a novel in the process.
But then a truly exciting thing happened. David told me he was launching a new program to promote new writers and wanted my novel The Feather and the Moon Well to be the first in the program! Of course I said yes. What an honor and privilege it is, to not only be associated with such a talented writer, but to be supported and encouraged by him as well. WordFire Press published The Feather and the Moon Well in conjunction with David Farland’s Discovery Program in April of 2016.
Of course it’s been an exciting process since then. And David offered this review of my book, which only adds the icing on the cake.
“In THE FEATHER AND THE MOON WELL, Shean Pao draws upon traditional tales of the fairy realm for inspiration, but creates a world that is uniquely her own. The resulting tale is richly drawn and completely seductive. This is a story that bears reading again and again.” —New York Times bestselling fantasy author David Farland.
We had lots of promotion to do. I flew out to Salt Lake City for the FanX convention where David Farland and Kevin J. Anderson, another NYT best selling author and owner of WordFire Press, gave a sneak peek at the release of my book.
Then in April I was off to Seattle for a book signing at the Emerald City Comic Con. I also had several book signing parties and met up with Dave again and shared a booth with him at the Palm Springs Comic Con. It was a whirlwind year of fun.
But sometimes life throws a wrench into things. I had some difficult years and had to give up writing for a while. I am just now getting back in the saddle. I have now self-published The Feather and the Moon Well with a new cover, and am working on the sequel, The Nepha Lord’s Daughter.
The Feather and the Moon Well is available for sale at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
If you would like to know more about this story, or have any questions about the plot or characters, feel free to email me.
I have one bit of advice to leave you with: Don’t ever stop writing. If you stop, then you will never know the possibilities of success… and sometimes magic happens.