The Scariest Thing About Sharing Our Story

Screen Shot 2017-09-04 at 5.03.57 PM

“I guess I’d been experiencing it for the 30 years before I actually started writing the book,” I admitted. “I knew that I wanted to write a book ever since I was a kid, but I was too afraid to try.”

It’s true. My fears—of failure, of not being good enough, of what people would think, of not getting published—had held me back from starting at all. So I made a lot of excuses and told myself a narrative of “shoulds.”

I should work toward a more stable career.

I should accept that it’s too hard to “make it” as a writer.

I should appreciate my life as it is.

I should be more realistic.

In my latest piece for Elephant Journal, an online magazine dedicated to mindful living, I write about fear, self-doubt, success, and why it’s not selfish to pursue our dreams.

You can access the entire article here.

My novel, See What Flowers, is available through Barnes & Noble

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 8.22.06 PM

See What Flowers, my début novel about love and mental illness, is now available to purchase in the United States through Barnes & Noble. Click here to access the listing.

See What Flowers is also available in Canada as both a paperback and e-book through Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.

For more information about the book, you can join the conversation on Goodreads.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 8.33.49 PM

About See What Flowers

All that remains is a note: “Gone to get pancakes.”

Her 30th birthday party’s over, yet it’s the happiest Emma Watters has ever been. Life couldn’t be more perfect. She’s an emergency room doctor and shares a home in Toronto with the love of her life, Adam Davison.

The next morning, Adam is gone. Emma’s shocked. At first, she decides that Adam’s having an affair and scavenges through photos on Facebook, trying to identify “the other woman.” But as the days pass, Emma seeks out help from the Toronto Police and floods social media with pleas for assistance. Where’s Adam? Has her life become an episode of Breaking Bad? Has she been dating Walter White all along?

Wild, beautiful, and terrifying, See What Flowers is a thrilling depiction of love’s attempts to survive in the face of undiagnosed mental illness. Set in the hectic, cosmopolitan cities of Toronto and Vancouver, as well as against the harsh, rugged landscape of the Canadian Arctic, it’s a raw and compelling journey towards understanding, forgiveness, and, ultimately, escape.

See What Flowers: Ottawa Book Launch at Terrace on the Canal

 

See What Flowers Terrace

It was a beautiful evening, at a beautiful venue, with a beautiful audience.

Last night, See What Flowers launched in Ottawa at Terrace on the Canal, a cozy outdoor patio/bar and event space nestled next to the Rideau Canal with picturesque views of the Parliament buildings and downtown Ottawa. A host to weddings, weekend yoga classes, and a pit stop for cyclists or tourists out for an evening stroll, it’s no surprise that Narcity recently described Terrace on the Canal as “the most amazing spot for literally any reason.”

Shan ottawa

Terrace on the Canal was an absolutely stunning venue for my book launch.

It provided a relaxed café feel where people could lounge on couches and catch up with old friends, combined with the magic of being at the heart of the nation’s capital, the fairytale charm of waving to a group of tourists as their boat drifted down the historic waterway and into the sunset.

 

antique see what flowers book launch ottawa

The evening opened with a musical performance by Ottawa-based band, The Bristol Hum.

Featuring  Shawn Baldwin, Scotty Lean, Tex McManus, and my super talented cousin, Sean Keohane, The Bristol Hum plays “straight-up rock n roll with a little funk and folk thrown in for good measure.”

To capture a more folky, emotional and bookish feel, they played their first ever acoustic performance, which seemed to draw out the magic of surrounding landscape. Their mesmerizing and melodic harmony warmed my heart underneath the twinkle of patio lights.

IMG_2956

The Bristol Hum is playing at Baconpalooza on Saturday, August 26 at 1:45pm at the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum. Their is music is also available on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify

reading 2

The second half of the evening involved a book reading of select passages from my novel. The book is written in he said/she said first-person narratives in the style of Gone Girl, alternating between the main characters Adam Davison and his girlfriend, Emma Watters and is set in Toronto, Vancouver and the Canadian Arctic.

I read two passages from Emma’s point of view and one from Adam’s, attempting to capture the various plot, characters, and setting without revealing too many spoilers.

 

See What Flowers Reading

“Is there such a thing as being too happy?” 

“We’re lost in each other, in the heart of Toronto, slow dancing to nothing but the beat of my heart and the sound of her breath on my neck. I know the subway trains are trembling beneath my feet and that we’re amidst the constant buzz of city life, yet I hear nothing but my heart beating and feel nothing but her breath on my neck.”

“When we begin to search a little deeper into the heart of the glacier, into the wisdom preserved into the remains of the last Ice Age, we can see that all life contains elements of light and darkness, and that to live truthfully, we need to be able to accept the joy as well as the pain.”Meg and Shan

 

Following my book reading, I participated in a Q & A led by my longtime friend, Megan Valois. Megan read early drafts of See What Flowers and provided some important feedback and criticism, ultimately motivating me to persist with writing and publishing, so it was very important to me that she was involved in this event.

During the Q& A, we chatted about my writing process, inspiration for See What Flowers, and future writing endeavours. Megan asked some thought-provoking questions that I am still reflecting on. Thank you, Megan, for your involvement and for being such a fantastic interviewer!

Q and A

I was absolutely touched and honoured that so many friends and family members took the time to come to this event.  Self-publishing is a difficult and extremely vulnerable process and I really wouldn’t have had the courage to do it without your continued support and encouragement.

see what flowers ottawa 2

See What Flowers, a contemporary fiction about love and mental illnessis available on Amazon.

My next book event is a book signing on Sunday, October 1 from 1-4pm at the Yonge and Eglinton Indigo location in Toronto.

 

 

IMG_2958

IMG_2875

See What Flowers ottawa

bristol hum play

IMG_2877

transition

book sales 2

book sales\fans

STP reunion

Shan See what flowers

Cottaging, Camping & Book Promo: My Summer at Home

campsite night 2 b
Camping on Little Coon Lake in Algonquin Park

 

“It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before.” 

― Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Since I’ve been living and working away from home over the last couple of years, I’ve taken every opportunity to travel during my holidays.

For me, the purpose of travel is to deepen my understanding about people and life. Through exposure to new people, places, and cultures, travel has broadened my perspective about the many different ways that one can live a happy and meaningful life. It has also helped shape my identity by reinforcing which values I held onto and which ones I let go of.

So it may seem strange that I chose to stay home this summer during my holidays from teaching…especially since my bucket list keeps getting longer and longer.

One of the main reasons that I stayed home was to promote my first novel, See What Flowers, which I recently published through Amazon CreateSpace. As I self-published my novel, I’m required to do all of the marketing and promotion myself. While this work has been very fun and interesting, it’s also quite time-consuming. As writing a novel has always been a dream of mine, it was important to me that I invested the time and energy into making this happen.

Another reason that I stayed at home was to spend time with friends and family. Several of my closest friends live abroad and came home for parts of the summer and it was important to me to hang out with them as much as possible while they were here.

By staying at home, I was able to go to the ROM in Toronto for the first time with my friend Meira who lives in Israel. I was able to meet my friends’ Lisa and Jessie’s new babies. I was able to attend my friend Paige’s wedding in Creemore. I was able to have some long chats with my friend, Laura, who lives in New Zealand, and attend a Blue Jays game with my friend Jill who lives in Colombia and her awesome dad. I was able to explore a few of Ontario’s Provincial Parks with friends and family. Oh, let’s not forget that I was also able to spend last Saturday night alone with my parents at the cottage listening to Taylor Swift on repeat.

While I still intend to travel to as many different places as I can, my summer at home has helped me see the value of making time for the people and places that matter most to me. Although travel has been one of the most incredible teachers in my life, some of the most formative experiences for me have resulted from building deeper connections with the people and places I’ve known forever. Turns out that some of my best adventures have happened in my own backyard.

Here are a few photos from ‘local adventures’ that I partook in this summer:

Looking for moose
First annual cousins canoe camping weekend in Algonquin Park!

 

pink hues
Pink Hues over Little Salmon Lake in Frontenac Provincial Park
Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 8.22.19 PM
From South Africa to Collingwood, E-Bay and I make excellent wedding dates! (At our friend, Paige’s wedding in Creemore, ON)
canada geese
Kayaking at my cottage in Norway Bay, Quebec
debbie and dave canoeing through clouds
Canoe camping with friends I met in the Arctic in Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
K_Loon with its mouth open
Practising my nature photography skills while canoeing and kayaking
Cooking camping
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen…Cooking fajitas in the backcountry at Frontenac Park!
20170723_200221.jpg
Camping with my cousin, Jenn, and her son, Cameron, at Bronté Creek Provincial Park
flowers cafe 2
Book signing at Café 349 in Shawville, Quebec
K_Scruffy reading
Book Promo! Scruffy says “It’s a page-turner!”
Shan_Portagingc
Teaching fitness classes at Goodlife whipped me in shape for this 1.5 km portage at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
mount p
Exploring my neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant Village in Toronto
Mundo Lingo
Practising my French and Spanish at Mundo Lingo in Toronto
ROM
Checking out the Blue Whale exhibit during my first visit to the ROM (even though I’ve lived in TO for 4 yrs on and off)
game-of-thrones-eastwatch-jon-snow-05
^ My heroes ^ Many evenings at the cottage were spent binging GOT with my parents!
IMG_2854
My first novel, See What Flowers, is on the shelves at Indigo, Canada’s largest bookstore at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto

^ I started teaching myself how to windsurf at the cottage…this involved at least 20 wipeouts. Thanks to my Aunt Pat for rescuing me from a near storm.

In addition to these things, I also did a lot of NOTHING. (Although I’ll admit that a lot of this nothing was spent watching fan commentary about GOT Season 7 on YouTube!) I’ve learned that doing nothing every once in a while fuels creativity, reduces stress, and makes space for spontaneous surprises. It also makes me excited to get back to work in a couple of weeks once I feel fully rested and recovered (However, I’ll likely be saying something different on Labour Day weekend!)

See What Flowers Book Signing at Café 349

flowers cafe

Thank you to everyone who came out and supported my first novel at Café 349 in Shawville, Québec today! It was so nice for me to chat with some new and familiar faces about books, publishing, and summers in Norway Bay.

One thing I find hard about self-publishing, is that I am required to do all of the book promotion and marketing myself. This means that I have to sell myself and my work. As a shy and humble person, it is quite a challenge for me to ‘knock on doors’ and self-promote. Luckily, I have an enormous support network of friends and family who have helped me along the way. I have been touched and overwhelmed by all of the ongoing support you have provided for me.

Thank you to everyone from Norway Bay, Shawville, and the Pontiac who came to my book signing. Special thank you to Ruth Smiley Hahn at Café 349 for providing me with the opportunity to promote my work.

Paperback copies of See What Flowers are available to purchase in Café 349, or through Amazon.ca, and Chapters/Indigo. See What Flowers is also available as an eBook.

Upcoming Events

Thursday, August 24, 7:30pm-9:00pm

Ottawa Book LaunchTerrace on the Canal, Ottawa, Ontario, featuring acoustic performance by The Bristol Hum

Sunday, October 1, 1pm-4pm

Book Signing at Yonge & Eglinton Indigo, Toronto, Ontario

signing books at cafe 349

flowers cafe 2

Flowers on shelf 2

Flowers on shelf

 

IndieView about my début novel, See What Flowers

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 10.12.06 AM

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 10.29.34 AM

The website “The Indie View,” an online forum for connecting indie authors with reviews and readers, recently interviewed me about my début novel, See What Flowers.

In this “IndieView,” I discuss the inspiration behind See What Flowers, my writing process, publishing, and a little bit about me. Click here to access the full IndieView.

“After finishing the first draft, I realized that the writing was more emotional, more honest, and more impactful when I put more of myself into it. So during the editing, I added bits of personal experience to add depth and emotion to the characters.”

Shannon Mullen – 3 August 2017

My Book is on the Shelves @ Yonge & Eglinton Indigo in Toronto

IMG_2854 (1)

It is pretty much the coolest thing ever to see my book on the shelves at the Yonge and Eglinton Indigo…with a special “signed by author” sticker.

IMG_2855

See What Flowers is currently available to purchase through Chapters/Indigo online store and copies will be available in some select stores in Toronto and Ottawa.

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, August 12, 11am-2pm

Book Signing at Café 349, Shawville, Quebec

Thursday, August 24, 7:30pm-9:00pm

Ottawa Book Launch, Terrace on the Canal, Ottawa, Ontario

Sunday, October 1, 1pm-4pm

Book Signing at Yonge & Eglinton Indigo, Toronto, Ontario

Ottawa Book Launch: See What Flowers

IMG_6200
Reading from See What Flowers at the Toronto Book Launch

I’m excited to announce that I will be launching See What Flowers in Ottawa!

The event will feature acoustic performance by Ottawa-based band The Bristol Hum, author Q & A with Megan Valois, and book reading and signing.

Event Details:

Thursday, August 24, 7:30-9:00pm

Location: Terrace on the Canal

Cost: Free, no tickets required, first come, first serve

Copies of See What Flowers will be available to purchase for $20, cash only.

Facebook Event: http://bit.ly/2vexe6u

signing books
Signing books that I wrote at the Toronto Book Launch

Additional Information:

Amazon listing for See What Flowers: http://amzn.to/2u0yYQZ

Chapters/Indigo listing for See What Flowers: http://bit.ly/2vjY1Ok

Shannon Mullen’s Author Profile on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1e6r62f

Louise Johnson’s article on the Toronto Book Launch: http://bit.ly/2f59Cuw

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.44.14 AM

Upcoming Events:

Saturday, August 12, 11am-2pm

Book Signing at Café 349, Shawville, Quebec

Sunday, October 1, 1pm-4pm

Book Signing at Yonge & Eglinton Indigo, Toronto, Ontario

My novel, See What Flowers, is now available at Chapters/Indigo!

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.11.04 AM

How exciting that Chapters/Indigo, Canada’s leading bookstore, has made See What Flowers available through the online store! You can find the listing here.

Paperback copies of See What Flowers will also be available in select Indigo locations in both Ottawa and Toronto soon.

See What Flowers: Upcoming Events

Saturday, August 12, 11am-2pm

Book Signing at Café 349, Shawville, Quebec

Thursday, August 24, 7pm-9pm

Book Reading and Author Q & A at Terrace on the Canal, Ottawa, Ontario

Sunday, October 1, 1pm-4pm

Book Signing at Yonge & Eglinton Indigo, Toronto, Ontario

Have you read See What Flowers? Please support me by writing a review!

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 11.44.14 AMIf you have read the book, you can support me by writing a short review and providing a star rating via:

Amazon (if purchased through Amazon)

Indigo (if purchased through Indigo)

Goodreads (if purchased directly from me, borrowed from friend, purchased through any platform)

Thank you and happy reading!

Toronto Book Launch for See What Flowers

Reading book

The night was absolutely magical.

That’s the only way I can describe the Toronto Book Launch for my first novel, See What Flowers.

Magical. 

books

So many of my closest friends and family gathered together at The Steady Café and Bar to celebrate my book being published. I could feel the warmth of love all night. I truly appreciated that so many people made the effort to partake in this special night.

The night, MC’d by Rachael Glassman, began with a musical performance by my amazingly talented friend, Keira Loukes. Her choice of songs: hopeful, angry, sad, accepting, perfectly captured the theme of love and mental illness that centres the novel.

Keira’s performance was followed by an “Author Q & A” led by Toronto-writer, Louise Johnson, a friend of mine from summers spent in Norway Bay, Québec (who I previously interviewed for the Inspiring Women Series). Louise asked me about my writing process, the inspiration behind the book, and some content-specific questions about See What Flowers.

I closed the night by reading three passages from the novel that I felt showed the characters of Adam Davison and Emma Watters, as well as two of the settings: Toronto and the Canadian Arctic.

Oh, and then I signed the book that I wrote! How cool!

For more photos and details about the book, check out Louise’s post about the Toronto Book Launch for See What Flowers.

 

Setting up

IMG_6188.JPG

IMG_6194.JPG

IMG_6197.JPG

 

IMG_6200.JPG

audience

See What Flowers is available to purchase as both a paperback and eBook on Amazon.

Stay tuned for info about an Ottawa event in August!