Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes people ask me questions. Sometimes I make up questions I think people might ask me. Sometimes I'll even answer a new question if it's not listed below. Just head over to the Contact page and email me!

How in the world is your name pronounced?

I love my name. But it's a weird name, and I get that. So if you call me Shaniqua or Sha-nay-nay or Sheila or Shelly, I'll answer to it! (Heck, I might give a prize to whoever comes up with the most unique variation.) But if you really want to say it right, it's pronounced "shuh-LEE."

Where do you get your ideas?

Stranger Things. Star Trek. Lord of the Rings. The dude who takes his dog to stare down a sewer vent and bark for an hour every Thursday at 5 pm. Basically, everywhere. I read a lot, I watch a lot of TV, and I observe a lot of people. Then I give myself time to think about things and come up with weird questions that eventually morph into (slightly) less weird stories.

Who's your agent? Will she represent my book, too?

I'm represented by the fantastically brilliant Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates. She's a nerd like me, but infinitely cooler in her professionalism. She also edits like a mad wizard and fights for my books like a warrior. If you want her to be your hero-agent, too, check out her website for info on querying her!

How did you get your agent?
Before my agent entered the hallowed halls of agent-dom, I was lucky enough that she volunteered to be a reader for one of my previous stories. Her advice was so spot-on, she immediately jumped to the top of my agents-to-query list when she became an agent. She, apparently, had been following me on Twitter and saw me tweet a pitch about my book and asked me to send it to her. So I did, and two weeks and three offers later, I accepted Hannah's offer of representation! She really GOT my book, and she's been an amazing partner ever since.

How did you get your book published?
My debut YA sci fi, The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, came out November of 2014 from Sky Pony Press. I wrote all about it here, if you want to know more!

What was the inspiration for The Unhappening of Genesis Lee?
The seeds of a memory story have been germinating inside me since reading The Giver in fourth grade. Then, several years ago, my grandmother developed Alzheimer's and I was thinking a lot about memories she'd lost and how she'd grieve if she knew they were gone. Around this time, my husband and I visited my mom, who's very attached to objects that have personal meaning to her. My husband commented that it would be neat if we could store our memories of objects IN those objects. Instantly, it was like everything connected across my mind and the story sort of birthed itself then and there.

What are you writing now?
I'd tell you, but I'd have to kill you.

But I can say that I'm writing a science fiction novel, and cheating on it with a fantasy novel on the side. Is that vague enough for you?

I wrote a book too! Will you read it?
Give me a moment to freak out with you: You wrote a book! A BOOK. A whole entire book with people who do things that are awesome! Ahem. I'm actually really serious about my freak out, because writing a book is a HUGE thing to accomplish. I applaud you. Unfortunately, I also won't be able to read it. I don't have the time, and it would serve you better to find one or more critique partners who can be more permanently involved in your writing life.

What advice can you give me on writing?
Be confident! I know it's in the nature of an artist to have constant I'm brilliant/I'm-a-hack mood swings, but develop a trust in yourself and your abilities. Believe in your ability to work hard. Believe your hard work will pay off--and that it is paying off with every word you write. Believe in your ability to always improve. Believe that even when you're making mistakes, writing anything at all is a triumph. Believe in the validations of your work, as well as the criticism. Be confident in your ability to do something amazing!

Will you come speak at my school/church/book group/bat cave?
I'd love to! It depends on a few things-- mostly my schedule and the logistics of whether or not I can physically be present. Still, there's this pretty awesome thing called Skype, and I'm willing to do live video chats as well as physical visits. Email me with the logistics and we'll figure it out from there!

And if you have a bat cave, I AM SO THERE.


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