Writing or coaching memoir? You'll want to read my conversation with my client Shannon Kenny Carbonell about her memoir "All is Not LOST" [From the Desk of Jennie Nash]( For today's newsletter, I am speaking with Shannon Kenny Carbonell. Shannon is an Australian actress best known for playing Debbie Halliday in the 1980s Australian soap opera Sons And Daughters. She has also appeared in 1995's Bodily Harm, 1995's Dream On, Seinfeld, Purgatory, Batman Beyond, The Invisible Man, and 7th Heaven. Her debut book, a memoir, was just published. Here is the blurb from [Amazon](: Amazon Bestseller in Biographies and Love, Sex and Marriage Humor "All Is Not LOST is the story of what happened when one woman set aside a lifelong dream in favor of her kids, only to find herself battling her own ego and unfulfilled ambition. Shannon Kenny Carbonell -- wife of actor Nestor Carbonell of LOST, Bates Motel, and The Morning Show fame -- knew she was making the better choice for her, no matter how painful, when she decided on full-time motherhood over career. Little did Shannon know she would soon find herself desperate to feed the part of her that was suddenly starved of creativity and accomplishment. When she found out her family would be relocating to Oahu, Hawaii, while Nestor shot LOST, Shannon helped uproot their lives with as much true love and support as she could muster, thinking, ''I'll just have to be lost in the midst of LOST.'' But not long after the move, a torturous family fight revealed the burden of her loss was also weighing upon those closest to her. Just like the LOST survivors, she had crashed on an island that would test her, heal her, and surround her with the people who would eventually show her the way home. With a no-holds-barred honesty that is raw, sometimes heartbreaking, and often hysterical, former working actress Shannon Kenny Carbonell tells her tale of attempting to reconcile her growing feelings of failure and sudden loss of her identity. This is her journey." [41EW5sPbijL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_] I had the great pleasure of coaching Shannon on this book, and found the connection between her experience as an actress and her experience as a writer to be so inspiring. She was new to writing, but had been a professional actress for a very long time -- since she began acting as a child. She knew how to take feedback, how to pivot, how to iterate, and she definitely knew how to tell a story. My job was to channel all that talent, to help her find her story, and to help her stay on track -- both in a project management sense, but also in an emotional sense. A [book coach]( works both on the project and with the writer as a writer, and this is what makes the work of book coaching so rich and so resonant. I got to witness Shannon coming into her voice and her power, and fully owning her story. I got to be there as she wrestled with some of the very demons she writes about in her story -- ambition, creative identity, envy. Two Hard Things About Writing Memoir There are two really hard things about writing memoir that Shannon does very well in this book: - One is getting out of your own head -- of finding the universality in your story and making sure that it is on the page. This involves a kind of high-wire dance of writing about your own experiences, but writing about them in a way that makes room for the reader. The danger in getting it wrong is writing something that is very self-involved. Shannon avoided this by keeping her focus tightly fixed on the point of her story -- this idea of what happens when a mother makes the choice to give up the creative ambition that has been the center of her identity for most of her life. Every mother struggles with the transition to motherhood and what it means for their sense of self, but someone who has spent their life honing their craft suffers a special kind of pain. Shannon really captured that feeling of loss -- and she invites the reader to feel it, too.
- The second thing that is hard about writing a memoir is being honest -- really honest. As humans, we have a natural tendency to want to protect our hearts, and not look silly or foolish or vulnerable or desperate. Most people who write memoir hesitate or hold back. There is a kind of stinginess to their work -- and readers can smell it a mile away. Shannon was not afraid to share her true heart. I vividly remember when she wrote the rough draft of the scene about not wanting to walk the red carpet with her husband -- youâll have to read the book! -- and feeling her despair in my gut. There was also a scene she wrote about meeting the husband of a friend for the first time -- a man who had just returned from fighting in Afghanistan -- and her reverence for the work he had been doing, and the joy she felt that he had returned home safely -- brought tears to my eyes. Shannon was not afraid to reveal the highs and the lows, and to let the reader in on it all. How to Address a Pop Culture Hook [Shannon Carbonell with her husband and two sons at a park] Shannon with her family There was an added element to writing this particular story that was tricky to navigate -- the fact that it involved a famous show and a well-known actor, who was her husband. How much weight do you give those elements? The story is about Shannon and her experience as the âtrailing spouseâ to the Hawaii-based set of a hit TV show -- it was not about the TV show. But readers would certainly be curious about the show, and her husband. So how does the writer weigh how much to put in or leave out? How much do you lean on a popular cultural hook like that? I thought Shannon did a beautiful job with this -- giving the reader just enough insight (about how her husband would study his lines, how he might behave after a long night on set, what the actors did on their days off) without taking her eye off the point of the story, which was not the show, and not even what it was like to be on the edge of the show. It was about Shannon -- her loss, her struggle. She never loses sight of this, despite the clear and present temptation. Shannon and I recently sat down for a Q&A conversation about her story and writing process. Let's hear from Shannon about her experience writing the book: [BM017517] Jennie: Can you capture what you are feeling today -- your publication day. What is it like to have this day arrive after so many ups and downs? Shannon: I feel pretty even-keeled, precisely because Iâve experienced so many ups and downs. Over the years, Iâve come to understand that I do better when I live my life on a happiness scale of about 7, maybe 8 (if you measure happiness on a scale of 1 to 10). In my first career as an actor, I was constantly chasing a happiness level of 9 or 10. Those high feelings would happen after I won a job or received a rave review or praise on the set from a higher up. However, it took me a long time to learn that chasing a 9 or 10 inevitably meant also living at a 1 or 2 because as an actor you lose at least 20 jobs to the one you win and the feedback isnât always good. When I first sent out my book to agents, I fell right back into that pattern. I had high expectations -- I was craving a 9-10 feeling- but it didnât happen and I plunged into a number 1 feeling of despair. I then experienced a wake-up call. I wanted to take on writing as a second career, but I wasnât willing to live life addicted to finding those emotional highs again. It was a reminder to stay on that reset path Iâd made for myself. So Iâve kind of tried to remain even. Jennie: Would you mind sharing the big picture timeline of the writing of this book -- in terms of how long you have been working on it, and what was going on with your kids and life during that time, to give people a context for the creative process? Shannon: About eleven years after we returned from Hawaii, I started writing my book. My kids were 5 and 8 when I started sorting through my journals from Hawaii. Nestor (my husband) was working pretty steadily back then and often in Canada or New York. The kids were at a very labor-intensive age, so I gave myself an hour a day to write. Sometimes, when Nestor had been away for a while and returned, Iâd go on little three day trips where Iâd relax, enjoy the solitude and write. I wrote in this mode to the point where I felt Iâd gone as far as I could without needing outside help. That period was about three years. After that, I signed up for a UCLA extension class in memoirs. This also happened at a time when the boys were in school long enough for me to get to Westwood, do the class and be back in the valley for pick-up. You were teaching the class and I knew very quickly that I had found a teacher I could relate to and who was speaking a language I understood. I learned so much in the class that, when it ended, I asked if I could continue working with you as a coach. I worked on my manuscript for about two years. I took some breaks during that time, when my youngest son became quite ill and was subsequently diagnosed with severe Crohnâs disease. Around 2016, I had a finished manuscript and started to do the Author Accelerator pitch track course. After completing it, I started pitching to agents after the holidays of 2017. I failed to secure an agent and then suffered a major health issue of my own. I attended an amazing writersâ retreat with you and other Author Accelerator members in early June of 2019 -- I was starting to work on a novel -- and thatâs where you encouraged me to keep the door open on my memoir. You introduced me to the concept of hybrid publishing. I returned home and went over my memoir manuscript with a fine tooth comb. I decided to first submit my book to Greenleaf Book Group. They said âyesâ and here I am now. [Four kids, two with boogie boards, playing in Hawaii] The kids and their friends on the island Jennie: Eleven years!!! So when you first came to the class at UCLA, you thought you were almost done? Shannon: When we started the class, you said we would probably end up writing the manuscript again from scratch. I thought to myself, âThere is no way that will happen.â but thatâs exactly what happened. There was one class in particular where you had us do an exercise that focused on how to start our story. You used a timer and we wrote a number of different beginnings to our book within a strict (and short -- maybe 60-second?) time limit. I ended up using the fifth idea I had written down. The book evolved from there. When we began the exercise, I was pretty certain I would hold onto the beginning I had already written in my manuscript. How wrong was I? Jennie: You were extremely familiar and comfortable with the idea of having a coach to help you with the writing of the book. Did that come from your acting background? Actors always have people observing them and directing them. Why not writers, right? Shannon: Yes, exactly. I actually look at actors as interpretive creatives and I think we are more craftspeople than artists -- although great acting can become art. We are one step removed from the pure process of creativity. The fact that we are most often telling someone elseâs story as a group requires supervision: the director. Having been an actor I learned to trust in the director and rely on their eye and my instincts to guide me. I needed guidance, because I was a small cog in a very big wheel. I saw the process exactly the same when I started writing. Iâll never forget being in your memoir class and having some one-on-one time where we were looking at my book as a whole. I knew a lot of things about my book but the big theme, the through line, was blurry to me because I was still so in it. You pointed out the major theme of my book quite quickly. It made perfect sense because it was something I knew but had lost sight of in the details. It wouldâve taken me a long time to find that kind of distance and yet I needed to cling onto that through line in order to do a big rewrite. It was an essential moment that I could never have found without a coach. Writing in a bubble also requires a ton of discipline and it can be very tough to motivate after some time. So a coach, for me, also functions as a fitness trainer of sorts, who holds you accountable. Thereâs another thing that maybe more apropos to me than others and itâs this â my college education is in theater. I am the first one in my family to have gone to college. My high school education was from a Catholic school in Sydneyâs northern beaches. I had a solid education in creative writing, and I am a big reader, but I was never taught the technical side of writing. I had no idea what a run-on sentence was or how to use a semicolon vs a colon. I needed help in that area. Lastly, Iâm a big lover of learning, but I am also ambitious and I want to produce. Having a book coach allows me to do both. Jennie: And how was being coached for your writing similar and different from being coached as an actor? Shannon: The similarities are that both give you a necessary outside view of your work that, in my mind, is absolutely essential. The major difference has to do with time. When you are coached (I didnât use acting coaches on set- although a ton of famous actors do) or given notes as an actor, you are expected to come up with the adjustment right then and there. Itâs very demanding and requires nerves of steel, a ton of relaxation (and for me extensive work on the characterâs background.) The only advantage you have as an actor is you have another person to play off of, so you can find freedom in that. However, with writing, you have the luxury of time and experimentation, you can let your thoughts ferment and also allow your imagination to run more freely with the feedback youâre given. Then you can rewrite and refine to your heartâs content. I also love the fact that you can tighten and compress your work AND that you have control over the editing process. As an actor, you are edited as the editor sees fit. Itâs a much more civilized process as a writer and it lends itself even more to having a coach. Jennie: Was the unfolding of the creative process of writing a book surprising to you in any way? For instance, how long it took or what it felt like along the way? Shannon: When I started to write my book, I was in a place where I needed to fill a creative void within myself. I was quite surprised at how quickly my happiness level was lifted by the process of writing. I could almost graph my happiness on whether I was able to write that day. I was absolutely surprised that Iâd found another creative outlet that suited me so well. In the beginning, I was surprised at how much you could accomplish with only one dedicated hour a day. I enjoyed the slow building process of a book. There were very few ups and downs for me, except when it came to pitching the book to agents. The pace of creating this book suited me just fine, especially because life presented some pretty big challenges during those years. Jennie: Your book is very much about ambition and jealousy. Did those play a role in your motivation to write? What other emotions propelled you? Shannon: In the beginning, happiness and self-preservation motivated me. Then I started to believe I might have a story that other people (especially women) could relate to and that motivated me in an ambitious way. The fact that perhaps my book could speak to others made me think I might have something sellable on my hands. Iâm not the kind of person who is happy creating in a void. In fact, I think that is anti-creative. One of the most important parts of art, and especially story telling, is that it must be shared. I donât love the word âjealousyâ because to me that means wanting to have something someone else owns, and Iâve never been about that. I just donât have it in me to act on those instincts. But yes, I have dealt with and still deal with envy. Much less now, but that is still one of my battles. It is a great motivator though. Envying what someone else has makes me work harder to try and have it too. It took me a long time to understand power dynamics. Iâm not sure why. Now I get it and I recognize it with acquaintances and, unfortunately, some friends. I see when someone is very invested in their power over me and I must admit that is also a big motivator. If Iâm being dead honest, I do sometimes operate from an âIâll show themâ mentality. Jennie: We worked hard on the narrative arc of your story, and on the role the TV show LOST, which was filming during the timeframe the story takes place. What do you recall about that decision-making process -- and having another person to bounce ideas off of? Shannon: This was a time in the creative process when having a book coach was absolutely essential for me. The parts of LOST and the references I was weaving into my book were true and organic because Iâd relied heavily on my journals in the beginning. However, I needed another eye to see if the LOST references tracked, if too much time had gone by in the book without mentioning LOST and then to give me a nudge to try and find an authentic connection in certain chapters of my book. We also thought about completely dropping all of the LOST connections from my story. I was worried that I might be deceiving readers into buying a book that they imagined was a revealing tale about the behind the scenes goings on of LOST. I was also aware that the LOST connection could be a great hook and it was authentic. When I mentioned this to you, you clarified things for me. You told me that you thought I was actually very generous about the way I let the reader into the world of an actor and the wife of an actor. You said that in the day-to-day in-depth look at our lives and the inner workings of an actorâs mind, I had actually opened a lot of doors into the many interesting parts of being an actor working on a hit TV show (ie, like the little tent the partners of actors go to when they donât want to walk the red carpet.) I would never have seen or understood the value of this without you telling me. That helped me make the decision to keep all of the LOST references in the book which I now think adds a different level of understanding to some of my journey as well as a really fun backdrop. Jennie: You got very sick in the middle of this project. Are you able to share anything about that? About coming back to the work after you recovered? Shannon: Yes, I was diagnosed with stage two squamous cell carcinoma on my lower lip. It was a frustrating diagnosis because Iâd asked my dermatologist to biopsy the area for four years and sheâd convinced me it was nothing. After receiving the news, I never feared for my life, especially after an oncologist friend of ours insisted on taking my slides to a panel of doctors to make sure the parameters were clear. However, I ended up losing my whole lower lip. The surgeon replaced it with the inner skin of my lower mouth. There were a bunch of complications that ended with my lip looking quite bad. I used to have a wide smile and after the surgery I could barely open my mouth for a long period of time. I had always been quite vain and satisfied with the way my lips looked; I was blessed with full lips. It was very confronting and I was REALLY forced to look inward. I had a bit of an existential crisis as well, and it had to do with the journey I wrote about in my book. When I walked away from my dreams and my career it was a choice I made to take on full-time motherhood. My book is about the ambivalence I developed about that choice and how I almost immediately went to battle with my ego and unfulfilled ambition. The book is about my complete loss of identity and the journey I took back to myself as a whole person again. Once I lost my lip I realized that whether Iâd had kids or not, whether my career had continued as a reliable working actress or Iâd advanced to the level of a well known actress or even a starâ Iâd never really had any choice at all. My career was always going to be halted, maybe ended for good when I received this cancer diagnosis and my face was permanently changed. I had no idea what my lip and my mouth would look like in the end. In my mind Iâd made a choice that would have had no real consequence in the long run. Was my story even relevant anymore? I actually wrote another chapter to add on to the end about my diagnosis, but I never ended up going with it. I reconciled with the ways things turned out and I came to honor my choices no matter what the future might have held. Getting back to writing was again a happiness pill. Having the structure that a writing coach gave me was essential. I was in no state to make those sort of rules for myself and, I have to say, that as an adult with a coach, as opposed to a child with a teacher, I had the freedom and the wisdom to let you guys know whenI needed a break to deal with some emotions that had surfaced. And, of course, you guys were completely understanding. Jennie: I was baffled that you had trouble landing an agent for this book. I thought it was going to get attention from the gatekeepers of traditional publishers, but it didnât. No one has a crystal ball, but I really was surprised -- and obviously upset. What was that experience like for you -- the rejection? Actors suffer a lot of rejection, but this felt very personal to you. Shannon: Ha ha! Iâm laughing because I did too. But I was the kind of actress that thought when I nailed an audition the job was mine! I was always such a puritan and never thought of the business as subjective. I took the rejection of my book really, really badly. I think it was because it had taken such a long time to get the book to the point of being ready to send out, so it was a ton of effort on one single project. However, I was always a person who took rejection personally. As an actor I never got to a healthy place with that. Thatâs when I realized how much healthier I had been in the years where Iâd stopped acting and specifically auditioning. I concluded that I could not get myself back into that pattern of high expectations again. I got a few manuscript reads and some lovely honest feedback from agents saying they loved the material but thought theyâd have trouble pitching a showbiz memoir of someone who was not well known. I also realized that pitching a book was as hard as sending a headshot out as an actor, which is basically the coldest of cold calls. I pitched my book to an agent who said that he prided himself in reading every first couple of chapters himself. He said he, and only he, could spot that special something in a book, so it was a very personal thing for him. So when I got a letter back from, I kid you not, âassistant #2â saying she had read the chapters, I realized what I was dealing with. So I had to put it in perspective intellectually and then get an emotional grip on things. Even though I was so disappointed, I just couldnât continue that pattern of behavior if I wanted to continue to write. Jennie: How did you decide to move forward with publication despite those rejections? Shannon: Well, it was because of you. It was your push. I was ready to move onto a novel, partly because there is stuff in my memoir about my family I was uneasy about sharing, particularly some bad behavior from my dad. Iâd had a rocky relationship with my dad in the past, but weâd come to a place of peace -- again because of the book. Iâd read the beginning of my book in Dadâs writersâ group back in Australia and I think he finally understood me. He then wrote me this beautiful letter apologizing for some of the thoughtless things he had said to me in anger in the past. But there was more stuff he hadnât read in the book that I thought would trigger him. So, I let go of the idea of publishing it. I was at the retreat in Austin and I was telling you about my novel and you said, âThatâs great but you have a memoir thatâs just sitting there!â You told me all about hybrid publishing, which I had no idea about. When you talked about Greenleaf in particular, I was very intrigued. I loved the idea that they had an in with Hudson books (at airports) and they just sounded really fresh and young and innovative to me. Ironically, when Dad finally read the book, he took all the stuff I wrote about him really well. He said, âif you painted the Mona Lisa and she had a wart and you left that out, then that would have been tragic. So youâre doing the right thingâ. Jennie: You landed on Greenleaf, a hybrid publisher. What were your thoughts about that path before you signed on? Shannon: I thought they were an âAâ class operation with so much to offer. But I was worried about the money. And I was worried about the fact that their best-selling books all seemed to be business books and, frankly, I was worried about legitimacy. I knew they were more than legitimate and I knew my book had a lot to offer. I reasoned that when a lot of my agent feedback was that they didnât know what category to put the book in in order to sell it, that was a good thing. Most of the music I like doesnât really fall into a genre but instead creates its own. I knew I wasnât about to do something that big, but I knew I had a story that was unique. The reason I was worried about the legitimacy was in part because I thought other people would perceive it as not very good due to the fact I couldnât get an agent or a traditional publisher. And I was right about that in some cases. As far as Greenleaf only being good with business books, I couldnât have been more wrong. They gave me exactly the right editor, cover designer, and marketing person. And they totally understood my book. Money became a slight problem after Covid hit and the shutting down of all Hollywood productions. It made us a bit nervous. However, my husband and I are very conservative about spending and we considered this our ârainy dayâ and we were both eager to make this investment in the book. Jennie: The title changed at the end -- from Diary of a LOST Housewife All is Not LOST to Can you talk about that process? Shannon: Yes. My publishers at Greenleaf thought my original title Diary of a LOST Housewife was too limiting in terms of audience interest. They thought the word housewife would cut out many potential readers -- ie men. A lot of LOST viewers are men, and men are just as vulnerable to losing their sense of identity after life doesnât go the way they envision it. Also, younger women around the ages of 30-40 who are prime readers for my book, donât identify as housewives. Greenleaf thought they may dismiss the book out of hand. I also had a slight hesitation about the title maybe sounding childlike in relation to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Greenleaf might also have wanted to steer clear of any negative connotations brought up by the Housewives franchise on Bravo TV. The only part of it that perhaps I shouldnât have done was hire their in-house retitling committee. Most of the extra services like this were well worth the money but this all happened very early in the process and perhaps I was far more intimate with the book at that point than anyone. It was actually Nestor who suggested I look up some common phrases having to do with the word LOST, and thatâs where I found All is Not LOST. Greenleaf was pitching Diary of a LOST Woman but that never sat right with me as I wasnât a lost woman on the show, but rather a lost housewife of an actor on the show. Greenleaf did help when it came to the subtitle, something that never would have occurred to me. I had come up with the words âfriending failureâ, and they encouraged me to put that in. I loved having a reference to the Island; I am strangely obsessed with islands and find them intriguing and magical. And the idea of coming home is a big theme in the book. So, I suppose in the end, it was money well spent on titling -- at least 50% of it! Jennie: You had total creative control on the cover, and did something extraordinary work. We can share some photos and some of your back and forth with the artist, because you spent quite a bit of time on it. [Shannon Covers - Jennie April Newsletter] Shannon: I absolutely loved this part of the process. It was such a joy. When the designer wrote to me, he told me he had recently graduated from the Savannah School of Art and Design. I had actually seen the school a few years earlier on a trip to Savannah. I had graduated (many years earlier) from the California Institute of the Arts -- CalArts. I asked him if we could be really collaborative, especially since weâd both come from art school educations, even though mine had been a performing arts one. He was with me all the way. It was a true back and forth -- I kind of pushed him to keep going further, to make it better by small details, especially at the end. I couldnât quite tell if I was bugging him. He is really young and very understated. Then he would write back after the change and be very excited, so I knew he was into it. I think we thrived on each otherâs ideas and, because I knew nothing about graphics, I was so excited to find out how easy some of the fixes were. In the end, he told me heâd had a blast and was really proud of the outcome. Iâm not an expert in that field but I also think he is a really big talent. Jennie: How do you feel about the hybrid publishing process now? Do you feel still that sense of creative control -- in terms of the process of publishing? Shannon: I definitely felt very creatively connected to my book at all times. I never felt out of control for a minute. I was always reassured that nothing would be done that I didnât feel comfortable with. I felt like I could go to anyone at any time and not feel weird about a thing. There was no politicking. It was so unlike my former business. I donât know if thatâs a typical dynamic compared to traditional publishing, but it would be such a shame to not have that experience again. I really felt like I got a year-long degree in how to publish a book. Iâm not sure I have all of the ins and outs of marketing, however. Jennie: What are some of the marketing initiatives you have done? And how was it to be in the Hollywood Reporter as a writer, not an actor? Shannon: I hired a publicist. But, I decided to hire a Hollywood publicist not a book publicist. Iâm not sure whether that was a good decision --I think âyesâ but time will tell. Greenleaf gave me a lovely book marketing person. It was fun to be in the [Hollywood Reporter](as a writer. As an actress I never dwelled on publicity, other than as a tool for longevity in the business. In fact, I often dreaded it, mostly out of insecurity about the way I looked and acted. I see it so differently now. I still donât see it as glamorous. But it is just amazing to me how it directly correlates to sales. I have been really hustling with this book. And I do love talking to people so itâs not so cut and dry. Itâs also been fun. Iâm proud of this book so I want it to be read and I also want it to sell. Nestor, my husband, came up with a great grassroots initiative that really worked. We gave the book to LOST actors who were trusted friends and if they responded to the book, asked them if they could please do an Instagram post for us. Some of these people have huge followings and a lot of them really came through for me. It was very moving and their posts had a direct impact on sales. Weâve also been doing podcasts, some newspaper interviews and some morning shows in Australia and as well as in the US. I also reached out to some bookstagrammers with varying success and more podcasters and am continuing to do my own reach-out day after day. [Shannon Covers - Jennie April Newsletter (1)] Actors (left to right) Jorge Garcia, Elizabeth Mitchell, Carlos Gomez, and Michael Emerson holding their copies of "All is Not Lost" Jennie: What will signify success to you? Shannon: Iâm not sure. Iâve received a lot of e-mails and calls from friends who I know have genuinely been moved by my book. Iâve also been contacted through my website by a lot of women who have been inspired, suddenly didnât feel alone in their struggle or just felt seen when they read the book. That is all deeply satisfying. Iâve read reviews -- most are good and a few have been really mean. Then I got a vm yesterday from my college roommate from sophomore year to graduation. Our careers were different but we ended up in the same place -- with happy lives. When she talked to me, she broke down in tears a few times. She was so happy and she thanked me for writing the book and she said it meant everything to her because it was her book too. And it was. I had written it for her and so many of us. I called her back and was happy it was her vm as well and I donât remember everything I said but I told her it was her book for sure, and even though our college dreams didnât turn out the way we wanted, I was just so happy that we were still whole women, that we were complete. I then played her vm to Nestor and, upon hearing it, he actually cried a bit and then said to me, âYou can quit now, babe.â I donât think I want to quit. I still want to keep pushing for the book, but I think Iâve found success. The feeling of fulfillment I experienced ever since I decided to move ahead with Greenleaf has been so profound that I see it as a success too. Jennie: How does your family feel about the publication -- your husband and kids? Shannon: They have been there with me and are 100% supportive. My youngest son has been as supportive as a fifteen year old can be. My eighteen year old -- 19 on Friday -- has been genuinely thrilled for me and really inquisitive. And Nestor has been my partner-in-crime, as always. Jennie: What would you tell book coaches about how to work with a memoir writer? Shannon: I feel like I donât have a lot of authority on this subject as Iâm still learning so much about writing. The only thing I can say is that simpler is always better. And one more thing Iâve learned, that only comes from having experienced a ton of acting teachers over the years is this: I think itâs best to teach writers if you really love writers. And be careful not to get that confused with writing. The only acting teachers worth their salt had a genuine love of actors, which is not always an easy thing to have. I used to marvel at it. I could never love actors the way some of my brilliant teachers did. I definitely think you have that love for writers, Jennie. It has to be a genuine love and the student picks up on the energy really easily and it just makes the transfer of information so much easier and so joyous. [IMG_2055] Shannon and some of her friends Jennie: What creative pursuit will you do next? Shannon: I want to write a novel. Itâs been brewing in my head for a while now. I canât wait to really get down to it. Jennie: Are you willing to share anything about the new idea? Not all writers want to do that -- but I have to ask! Shannon: Yes. Itâs a coming of age story, and itâs about a young woman who has to find courage and specifically courage in order to tell the truth about a monumental wrong that was done to her. Itâs a period piece, set in the early eighties which I think was also a fun time in pop culture. We were coming out of the sincerity and earthiness of the seventies and for a lot of teenagers it was all about neon color and jumping around on the dance floor, polka dots were in and we wore huge silly scrunchies in our hair. It was about freedom and a purposeful throwing away of all of that was grounded. I love that juxtaposition of environment and a characterâs insides. Iâve never seen it but I want to watch a production of Richard the Third where he enters talking about the âwinter of our discontentâ and yet itâs bright and sunny outside and the grass is lime green and the flowers are saturated with color and on and on. Thatâs how I see and feel my story on the outside but my girlâs journey on the inside is all about truth and bravery and what it takes to get to that place. I have a lot of work in front of me! Jennie: It sounds wonderful! I canât wait to watch it unfold for you! Want to hear more about Shannon's memoir writing process? Click [here]( to watch our conversation on Instagram Live! Cheers! [jennies_signature] [Facebook](
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