About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


         When you browse the bookstore, the shelves are full of series. They have a premise that spans several novels, the characters all residing in the same world. For some the stories are human and take place in modern day. Some are paranormal with otherworldly elements, but each book shares a common theme.

          I spent a long time trying to figure out what I wanted my theme to be.

          There’s an adage in writing, “Write what you know.” You go with your strengths. And while I wanted to go with what I do well, I also wanted to learn. I want each one of my books to develop something in me as a writer, to strengthen an area. And for four books I will be exercising the ways one tells a story.

I'm walking my planets.     

          I know that sounds weird. In short, it’s the elements with a twist, based on a hobby I’ve had since I was young.

After you read book one—FIRE—I’ll fill you in on how it works.

It’s interesting, I promise.  

With each manuscript, I immerse myself in perspective of the characters. With fire, I experienced what my heroine did, to know what she saw and how she felt. I felt a racehorse’s heartbeat under my palm, the spirit in him.

Moving forward, I’ve found myself in a new place with book two, the next element in the theme. It’s a step away from fire, more solid, industrious. The characters are different than before, where I have to keep a more practical mindset.

It's about hard work and delayed gratification. The rewards of patience and diligence. 

          I knew preparation for this one would take time.

With those principles stuck at the back of my mind, I went on a short trip. My last vacation for the year, I was invited to go apple picking. During the days preceding my departure, I caught myself noticing the details of things more.

The little things, in people especially.

I visited the coffee kiosk in my local grocery store, able to stay and watch for once. And what I saw struck a chord with my current theme.

The young guy manning the store is early-twenties and tall. As I know the manager of the store well, I’d seen a revolving door of employees come and go over the months, the turnover from summer jobs to back-to-school making for a merry-go-round of new faces. I remembered the guy from early in the season, back when he was just starting out.

In the beginning I saw him fumble, scatter the coffee, make mistakes with the steps required to prepare the café drinks. For weeks he stepped up to the charge, and continued to grow. Despite the long lines, the overwhelming tasks and perpetual stare-downs from impatient patrons; he greeted customers pleasantly, made small talk, ran the register and poured the coffee. 

          His dedication made me think of an online article my critique partner shared with me. A comparison of work ethics between the generations, it talked about what expectations our parents had compared with those working to gain job security now.

          It struck me as interesting because that is what my current book is about—working hard to get where you want to be.

          Days later, while browsing through aisles of glorious apple trees, I returned to the farm’s main building to see a girl, no older than my youngest niece, answering a visitor’s question: Why are some pumpkins green, and others white and orange?

 I hung around to catch her explanation. The daughter of the farm’s owner, she knew so much for her years; everything from the growing seasons to how climate affects the crops. A new generation.

The following Monday, I made a pit stop at my coffee place before my return to work. The tall, young guy greeted me with a smile and used my name. He recanted my favorite order to the last detail, asking if he was correct. 

I confirmed and smiled, wondering how many people he spoke to in a day. How many hellos, how are yous? How many Skim or two percents? and You want whipped cream on thats?

He shuffled the cups like a magician, careful to include the second E in my name. He topped off the drink with timed finesse, his technique entertaining. The coffee tasted perfect.

As I walked away, I thought of all the little things done anonymously each day.

The ten-second transactions, the clang of registers, the thundering beat of everyday commerce. A recognition to the people who spend their days boxed-in, juggling papers, steaming milk, reciting hellos, goodbyes and the myriad of words in-between.

The jobs that aren't acknowledged, that are immensely important but unrecognized. The millions of fleeting moments that one hard-working person makes good with their positive attitude.

The invisible gears that run our world.

And there are young people in this new generation of workers that get it. I see them every day, doing the work, putting in the time.

I was lucky to see it, the research I needed, right in front of me. The center of the earth element.

It taught me something about giving.  

A job may feel like an endless loop, a line of exertion with little appreciation at the end of the day, but there’s a gift in doing the work. A touch that is passed on with every good experience you convey.  

Service, whatever form it takes, is no small thing.

-         SNG   

Saturday, August 24, 2013


          Hi again. I’m fashionably late as usual.

          Well, if sweat shorts and a tank top counts, but you don’t see that.

          I won’t fib and tell you that I’m all dolled up.

It’s writer dress code: Shabby-Sit-for-four-hour-periods-at-a-stretch.

And this post touches on fashion at the end. Stay with me and we’ll leave off on that note.

I’ve been busy since returning from Romance Writers of America nationals and submitting my manuscript for publication. I look forward to having good news to share soon. 

And I have a pretty new RWA pin on its way to me now, too. Whoo-Hoo!

It will be the pride of my nametag lanyard when it arrives.

          In its wake emails have been sent, queries issued and I’m embarking on manuscript number two; a new journey.

          With all this experience I often wonder if I’m getting comfortable with the process. There’s always this spark when typing the first words, the first sentence. A buzz that says a new adventure is beginning.

Whenever I mention that I write books, I smile when someone comes back with, “You’re an author? That’s cool!”

I feel that I must earn the title, even though I’ve done the work. 

When reading the author Q&A on blogs, I notice that a writer inevitably gets asked, “When did you know that you wanted to write?”

For many the response is, “Since I could hold a pencil” or “Since before I could walk.”

I wish I could say that it started that young.

           In the weeks leading up to Nationals, I thought back to the origin of when I knew writing was the dream.

I think the process is what developed initially. I remember watching television shows and pointing out the gaps in the plots. I liked the drama when it was plausible, real. I’d break down the series of events in my head and connect them, like dots. When an image formed with the lines, an overall connected theme, I got this feeling of victory. Like I linked it all together, that the story had come full circle. Which kind of points to my writing style.

In writing there are two types of drafting personalities: Plotters and Pantsers

Plotters are those who like to have an outline before starting to write. The events and story arc are bullet-point and sequential, with few surprises. Pantsing is coined from the phrase “Seat of your pants.” It’s where the writer sits down and lets the story come to them, which is spontaneous and in the moment.

Pantser. If on deadline, add hair-pulling. 

There are pros and cons to both of these approaches, but as with all acts of creative endeavor, there is no wrong way, you go with your process.

I’m a plotter by nature, listing the scenes, drafting them in linear order, which isn’t as dry as it sounds. There are times a moment surprises me, unfurling some unique emotion, or opening up a sweet nuance that connects to the overall story.

The parts of my books come to me in pieces at first, floating around my head, keeping me up at night. The pivotal scenes tend to emerge early, fermenting in my mind’s eye until I get it down on paper.

That is one of the stories behind THE FIRE WALKERS. I didn’t expect to draft FIRE first, I didn’t think I had it in me to do it. Then the heroine’s big black moment burst into my head and changed everything...

Before packing up to head to Atlanta, I made a trip to the library. I drive when I travel, and I take audio books along to fill the hours on the road. This year I borrowed the biography of a famous media magnate. Engulfed in his story, I listened to the whole book during my drive; with one part standing out. It mentioned how he used story-boards in all of his features, a process that has been rarely used in movie-making since.

An expensive middle segment, the planning out of the script in scenes enabled animators to edit or develop the elements of the narrative. Thus resulting in some of the most memorable images in story-telling. I found that fascinating.

It reminded me of an outline of a book. Plotters use big index cards that list the actions, point of view and “essence” of a scene. Many writers tack them up on a cork board to synchronize the order, changing and intensifying as the story gels.

Like a story-board. Without a pen touching paper, it's writing.

And I’ve done this from the beginning. From the time I was little, I'd connect the dots. I think that counts.

So, where’s that fashion I promised you? I didn’t forget.

I had a friend in high school who dressed a little strange.

Always trendy and out-of-the-box creative with it, she earned the funny looks not with her style, but with her timing. At the end of summer she wore heavy layers. In the dead of winter she donned bright, cotton colors. She remained perpetually three months ahead all throughout school, putting on a show called, “What is she going to have on today?” 

To many this came across as odd. It went against the silent and impermeable creed of secondary education:

Thou shalt not wear shorts year round, nor dress in contrast to the elements.

Over the course of four years, she cast off the nay-sayers with her polish and flash, and went on to graduate with honors.

How does this relate to dots and writers, you ask?

A few years after our class reunion I got an update. After college, my friend headed up to New York City with a degree in design, working her way up from an intern position at a big fashion magazine.

An industry that continually works a season ahead.

Those were her dots.

Her story drove home a personal belief: I think everyone has a concealed talent.

It reminds me of a favorite quote by Drew Barrymore:

“The only fundamental rule for me is to just be yourself,” she says. “Let your freak-flag fly.”

           That stands for mice, men, fashionistas, and writers.

-         SNG   ;0)

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I know what you’re going to say. 

          BAD Blogger.  Bad, BAD Blogger!

          You are justified.  Life’s been nuts but that's nothing new. 

          With RWA Nationals a mere six weeks away, I’m getting uber excited and splurging on new luggage.  A cute mid-sized, state-of-the-art thing that rolls like a Lamborghini and has a trillion interior pockets.  (Yessss!)

          A reward for work done during the radio silence, I’m proud to report that in the last month I've:

·        Revised my current manuscript
·        Fact-checked the MS details
·        Worked out a pitch
·        Framed out brand concepts
·        Updated my website
·        Considered new author photos… then went with the old author photos
·        Read books on craft
·        Drafted the new WIP
·        Started on the finished MS synopsis.

          Okay, more like air-stabbed the synopsis screen with a pen while going, “Rheet! Rheet! RHEET!”, but I consider that progress. 

          From what I’ve heard, many authors find the synopsis to be a challenge, and I must be a weirdo because I like the revisions phase better. 

          It’s the point where I get to fill in the gaps and flesh out the characters.  Granted, you can write in the wrong direction sometimes and get stuck, but at least you have material to savage and work with the broken scenes.

          With all this going on, in addition to my work and home responsibilities, time got away from me.  More than flew, it wind-tunneled, which got me thinking.

          Time is something you make, not the other way around.

          When there’s so much to do, all of it requiring undivided attention, the clock slips away... 

           I felt like I needed  more focus, and browsing my favorite book store I picked up a book on how to become more mentally disciplined.  My Look-a-squirrel! attention span pleased to find a self-help guide that was only ninety-eight pages long.  

          Based on the new age premise of “staying present”, the book centered on the art of practice, of rehearsal.  It talked about how all the activities that you’re skilled at are gained through time and applied effort.

          You think of a child learning how to fold towels for the first time.  A middle-schooler sitting at a piano, testing out the keys to the steady beat of a metronome.

          When learning you’re allowed to experiment, to mess up. 

          The more a writer sits down and writes, the more skilled they become. 

          They ask the question, How could I best describe this?  The everyday snapshots of life providing a writer the words, phrases and voice to tell a story.  

          A simple principle, it's easy to forget.  We get busy, distracted.

          And I sense a fear in writers sometimes.  They get caught up in the expectation that their product be literary, admired, break-out-of-the-starting-gate, they forget that it's the application that makes the work good. 


           If you write everyday, about anything:  The dog you saw out on a walk that morning.  The flawless rose that just bloomed in your garden.  The jerk who cut you off in line at the grocery store—the practice will make you better. 

           It made sense. 

           Once I made it past page sixty-six.   *sheepish grin*

           And I've pinned the lesson up in my mind while I walk through the maelstrom of publishing prep.  

           I want to entertain and engage readers. I want to be recognized and admired by my peers. I want the boons that come from all the hard work.

          But first I must dream and tinker and write.  

          Because quality stems from practice.

          - SNG  :0)




Thursday, April 11, 2013


Note:  See the post prior for back story.  ;0)

A few years after I’d visited the MET, I’d heard that the National Museum of Art in Washington D.C. had Norman Rockwell’s THE FOUR FREEDOMS on display.  On loan from another institution, I made the trip downtown only to discover that I’d missed the exhibit by one day.

“The paintings aren’t here anymore?” I asked, crestfallen.

“No, they’ve been sent back to the Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts.”

At the time I hadn’t traveled much, and after my fateful encounter with the Monet I wondered if I should even be allowed around priceless pieces of art again.  But my curiosity got the better of me, and I added “See a Rockwell up close” to my resolutions page the following year. 

Early in January 2005 I found myself on the internet researching my vacation to Stockbridge, MA. While planning the trip and reserving a small room at a privately owned inn, I baulked at the fact that I’d never visited New England before.  It wasn’t like the thirteen colonies were that far away, all of them slightly north of MD, and I’d never ventured out to see them before. 

The fact struck me as sad.  I know a writer’s work is solitary, but seriously.  I needed to get out more.

And Stockbridge was a lovely place; a small town with brick colonial houses that anchored the rolling expanses of grass. Clotheslines dripping with freshly laundered cotton, it was so picturesque.  I can still taste the fresh bread from the main street bakery. 

          And I got to see a real Norman Rockwell.  God, I loved that trip. 

I walked through the Norman Rockwell Museum in awe of his style, the perfect lines of paint so different.  Monet painted his landscapes in the moment before the light of day faded.  Rockwell used precise, thin strokes.  His paintings looked like antique photos, snapshots of the past.  I was awed by the flawlessness of his work, its perfection.

          Walking slowly, I spent hours that day just analyzing his craft.  Thinking that an artist, whether they’re a painter or a writer or a hat maker, all develop a style based first on how they were taught, and then by what experimentation and experience has taught them.

          I perused the paintings losing myself in the art.  And I felt proud.

I’d checked off my resolution – I’d seen a Rockwell up close.  I’d seen almost all of them! 

I witnessed how amusing GOSSIP is in person, how GIRL AT A MIRROR reminds me of every little girl who dreams of being a mature woman someday.  How TRAFFIC CONDITIONS pokes fun at the little unexpected incidents in life. 

I spent forty-five minutes looking at the sunny yellow of the new bride’s dress in THE MARRIAGE LICENSE.  The reserved expression of approval on the old registrar’s face stealing my heart.  I think that one will always be my favorite. 

Each of the paintings hung on brightly lit wall space inside of wide rooms, the lines on the hardwood floors marking where you were to stand. 

Thinking back to the Monet, I left my camera in its bag. 

And while I remained mindful the entire time, something about THE TRUMPTEER did me in. I couldn’t help but see it closer, leaning in my eyes focused on the amazing merging of color on the fridge of the chair.  All crimson and carmine and cardinal…

A minute passed before I acknowledged the footsteps coming towards me.  Entranced, I didn’t back away as the lady from security inclined next to me, ear-to-ear, mirroring my stance.

          Holding my breath, I waited for her tell me that I was standing too close, that I shouldn’t be breathing near an American work of art.  That I was infringing on the rules.

When she spoke her voice was gentle, soft R’s saying, “Notice his use of red…”

          I grinned like a little kid—she was cool.

 The guide, Mary, told me all about the painting and explained Rockwell’s painting style.  He’d start with a charcoal drawing—the framework of all his paintings—and would maneuver the paint in layers over several weeks and sometimes months.  He punctuated with red, his signature color, his thumbprint.

          After touring the room I turned to her.  “Will you show me the FREEDOMS?” I asked.

          Without hesitation she held open her arm and escorted me to the largest room in the museum.
          I went to bed that night with art drifting through my dreams. 

Did the greats ever mess up when they were learning? I wondered.

Did Monet ever have a moment when he thought, “No, that is just isn’t right—” and started over? 

What about Rockwell?  How much trial and error did he go through before he became so flawless on canvas?

Similar to the editing process, there is no doubt that writing is an art.  Pick up any book and get a glimpse of an author’s style. 

          What does this author “paint” with?  Subtext? Metaphor?  Narrative voice?

          What structure choices were made to tell this story in the best way?  How did they learn that?

          Much is gleaned from books but more is learned from experience.  If you’re going to be good at writing, it takes practice.  You will have those drafts that really suck and you have face the reasons why.  You learn the rules to know where they bend, and break them only if the fissure serves a strong purpose. 

Great artists have had years of trial and error—plenty of first drafts and spilled paint.  In writing it’s dropping the words down in their raw form and then molding the coarse description into a clear story.  

It’s love of the process, not the final product that’s important. 

          That is what I love about storytelling.  Writing holds a memory just as a painting does. 

Do you remember a moment from a book you read long ago?  Is it just as fresh in your mind as when you first read it?

A bridge over water lilies, a couple signing their marriage license—what is your moment? 

Will you capture it?

-         SNG


Mentioned in one of my public bios is one of my many *facepalm* moments.  I can’t deny you the full story, but know the embarrassment remains…

Several years ago I had taken my sister on a trip to NYC to celebrate her birthday.  After we arrived, she turned around and surprised me with a trip to the MET to view my all-time favorite Monet painting BRIDGE OVER A POOL OF WATERLILIES. 

Man, it was spectacular in person.  A Japanese bridge in a spring with a water lilies stretched out underneath. The pastel colors and dabbed brushstrokes were mesmerizing, the style of Monet’s hand speaking over the span of time and distance.

I was desperate for a picture.

In the name of packing light, and unbeknownst to me that we were going to be visiting my favorite work of art, I’d brought my bum-around camera, the point-and-shoot having one button to control all its functions, which included disabling the flash. 
(If you see where this is going start cringing now.)

A little ART 101: paintings that are over a century old are crafted using far more organic materials than what’s available today, so exposing a classic oil painting to bright light has an eroding affect.  One synthetic burst of light can take days off the lifespan of the art.

I knew this.  And yet I had to find some way to control the camera.

I stood there struggling with the single-button.  Checking and re-checking that the little lightning bolt icon had a circled slash over it, meaning that the stupid flash was turned off.  One minute I’d see that it had the slash, the next the lightning bolt was back. 

This went on for five minutes.  Driving. Me. Crazy. 

Going through the de-flash steps again the circle-slash finally stayed, assuring me that I’d nixed the response.  I’d put the thing through so much scrutiny by then, the only remaining test was to actually take the picture. 

I pointed the camera at the masterpiece a depressed the shutter…

And the damn thing lit up the whole room.  

Tears welled as people around the room stopped to stare at me.  As the guard stationed at the door started my direction, I handed over the camera as if surrendering a discharged gun.

My freak-out lasted as I kept mumbling, “I flashed a Monet – Ohmygod!”

Opening his mouth the guard closed it again as he waited for my panic attack to subside.  After several minutes of my chatter he finally said my sister, “When she’s done hyperventilating, tell her not to do it again.”

And so here it is – the priceless piece of art I slighted. 

To this day I can’t think of it without chest pains. 

Please don’t judge me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


          I swear that there’s a psychic link between writers sometimes, this mental wavelength to which we all sync.  It’s especially helpful when authors share their problems and solutions. 

After a week of drafting I kept tripping over areas in my manuscript where the particulars were taking up too much space on the page.  Later that week I smiled when a fellow author in my writing group said that she had also been struggling with “too much detail.”

          I think everyone is familiar with this pitfall - "So-and-so walked over and flipped on the light." 

          Do we have to write that part?  Can I describe it without so much detail? 

         Those are the points when over-description creeps in and you-the-writer try to avoid bogging the story down.  The challenge is when and where to describe. 

In good writing there are natural gaps.  Spots where you-the-reader are not specifically told that something happened, but from the flow and diction you know it did without the author having to spell it out.

          Rolling the concept around in my head, I went to my personal Facebook page to find an example:

In an attempt to wean off Sbux I switched to their hot cocoa which is sans coffee. In a moment of experimentation the other day I asked for an additional shot of expresso.

Omgoodness. New favorite.

#defeatsthepurpose but #YUM

          Here you see that I had a hot chocolate, but nowhere did I say that I drank it.  The action is inferred based on the fact that I enjoyed it.  

          That’s the kind of good gap you want in your story.  A seamless transition where the reader knows it occurred without a whole lot of over-explanation.

          The gap between action and reaction is not really noticed because its exclusion keeps the story concise.

          On the flip side, too brief a description can come across as abrupt and clipped, leaving out viable information.  The mood of the scene plays into it as well.  If the scene is the action-packed culmination of the book, things are happening fast; there any added explanation may slow everything down.

It's tough striking the right balance, but with a little practice it will fall into place. 

Some unspoken actions are right where they need to be, in the space between. 

-         SNG   

Saturday, February 2, 2013


          After I “unplugged” last week, my return to the digital world took a few dips.

          As a both a consumer and a writer I think all people tend to hold on to the technological advances and systems that we like. And like any consumer accustomed to their tried-and-true, I’m a little hesitant to jump into a new technology unless I know its pros and cons, although there’s a lot of cool advances out there.

 A quick story to illustrate this is back when I was attending college part-time at night.  For eight years straight I packed lunches, budgeted my amenities, and dedicated all my free time to homework.  Things like online video games and high-speed internet were coming into their own at this time, but as I didn’t have the inclination or budget to invest in them, I went upon my merry way without all the fancy stuff.  The funny experience came after I graduated and attempted to reenter the world following my time school-driven seclusion.  

          Feel free to laugh as I confess that at the time I owned a tube television, a gift from my fifteenth birthday, the square monster living forever in TV years before it exhibited signs of impending demise; blipping and flashing towards the end

          Making my once-every-five-year trip into the go-to warehouse for home appliances, the store’s branded colors of yellow and blue blinded me, all the shelves displaying flat screens with Price is Right shaped stickers reading five hundred bucks or more. I felt intimidated, like Alice in Technologyland.  

          Looking around for a white rabbit—uh, a blue shirt—a nice sales rep exuded a saint’s worth of patience as I directly asked if they had any tube TVs left.  At first I wondered why the guy was leading me over to the kids section.  The mystery was quickly solved though as I blinked at a tiny tube with a plastic Jack Sparrow lounging on top, then over to its bubblegum pink neighbor, another small box sporting mouse ears and a big, polka-dot hair bow. 

          Okay, newsflash.  Tube TVs are obsolete.  It’s all Hi-Def and wide-screen and the size of a school bus now.

          I walked away with information about some of the new models, sticking with my rule of never making a big purchase without sleeping on it first.  I kept my die-hard relic of a tube until December at which time I received a moderate, perfect-for-me flat screen for Christmas.  It’s HD and compact, and with all luck will last me another fifteen years. By then I’ll have married a prince of a man who comes with his own kick-butt home entertainment system.  ;0)

          And if not, TVs aren’t my end-all.  I utilize them for basic cable and watching DVDs.  Because I'm a writer, my must-haves are the latest computer operating system and a hi-tech cell phone. Both of which I upgraded last week. 

I have a dictionary that docks to the document I'm writing.  Visual voicemail.  Consolidated contact history.  MS editing on the fly.  *Fistpump* Yeeesss!

I’ve been living the life… Until I decided to unplug.  Then I noticed that I have wires to pull.  A LOT of wires.  Attached to my keyboard, to my speakers, my video camera, my monitor... Too many.

In my techno-naïveté, the bare-bones, basic monitor that came with my computer failed to include integrated speakers, which I would have looked for if I’d known.  A combined camera seemed like a superfluous feature at first, a way for teenagers to video-conference friends sitting next to them.  If I want to see and talk to someone I’ll call, text, or get in the car and visit.  So until I had a legitimate reason, like to talk to my CP an ocean away in another country, the service didn't appeal to me. 

        It boils down to quality and function in my mind.  The technology needs to benefit people in personal ways and it needs to be consistent. 

        That minimalist future with flying vehicles and wireless everything?   We’re there

And it's hard to choose between what bells and whistles will last and what is unnecessary.

So the need for an all-in-one monitor prompted my bi-decade jaunt back into the warehouse.  The motif had changed, no yellow, more gray, making the place feel cavernous.  The reps were just as friendly although my problem was again, hard to fix.  There are wireless keyboards, solar ones even, to which I may invest.  But wireless speakers are as rare as tube televisions now, and with the need of a camera and certain screen resolution requirements, I may need to succumb to the current tech standard if I want to lose the wires.

Or I can keep it as it is, no harm in that either.

You know how technology is, you wait six months and the new takes over. 

So what is your favorite technology?  Any systems that you wish had stayed?

Let’s blog about it. 

- SNG  :0)