Shannon Stacey
Professional Writing Tools: The Diner Placemat

The Stacey family went out for dinner last night because somebody (me) didn’t have anything in the house to cook. I’m not great at meal planning because how do I know on Sunday what I’ll feel like eating on Thursday? There are also only three or four meals made from ingredients all four Staceys will eat and after a score-plus years, we’re all a little tired of them.

Anyway, I happened to catch my oldest giving me some serious side-eye and he gave a pointed nod toward my traveler’s notebook, which goes with me pretty much everywhere.

Why? Because inside the TN are four notebooks, one of which is for jotting down whatever crosses my mind while I’m out and about. I also have an iPhone, which has several handy-dandy note-taking options, as well as actual Office programs.

And there I was, scribbling notes on the placemat.

I had to blur quite a bit of it, so it looks weird, but yes, I was scribbling on the placemat instead of writing in the notebook designed for that purpose or jotting the notes on my phone. I can understand why somebody would side-eye the use of a placemat while the systems set up for just that reason are within reach.

There’s nothing more freeing for my brain than a restaurant placemat. I love scribbling on them. As a matter of fact, a ridiculous amount of 72 Hours was written on the back of placemats from one of our regular dining spots up north. All of my books contain some placemat words. But most often, I use it for brainstorming relating to the broader aspects of publishing and work.

Even when a notebook is intended for capturing random ideas and fleeting thoughts, I feel as if there’s a slight, subliminal pressure to put that information on the page in an organized way. Whether it’s the order things are written in or just writing in a straight line, notebooks have expectations.

But a placemat? I can scribble and make arrows. I can turn the placemat sideways or even upside down and just keep growing notes in any direction. Crooked. I can make boxes around things. I can cross something out with a mad scribble and shift the paper. No structure. No boundaries. No lines. Just coffee rings and the occasional spot of ketchup.

Sometimes, like last night, it’s just a quick burst of notes, so I take a picture and just leave the placemat. Other times, I fold it up and take it home with me. (They’re used to me at our usual haunts. That whole she’s a writer thing is real.) Every once in while, I’ll fall in the hyperfocus hole and my husband will have to clear a place on the table for the server to set my plate. There was even one time the bill was paid and my food had been put in a to-go box before I ever looked up. My brain loves placemats.

Sadly, it doesn’t work at home. If the actual placemat could draw words and coherent thoughts out of my brain, I’d order my own in bulk. And plain paper doesn’t work, either. I’ve bought sketch pads in the past, hoping it was just the freedom of a big, blank page. It wasn’t.

It’s just the magical, mystical power of the diner placemat.

Back to Top

A SECOND SHOT for only 99 cents!

A SECOND SHOT, previously published in the HOCKEY HOLIDAYS charity anthology, is now available as a single short novella for only 99 cents!

Andi Morgan was the one who got away—the woman Erik Burke walked away from to focus on the game—but when their paths cross once again, all he wants for Christmas is the chance to take another shot at love.





And because we’ve run into the holiday season, when schedules get set on fire, I’m shooting for a January 7th release day for HERE WE GO, which is Kristen and Cross’s story (and, yes, should technically have come first). I’ll announce a preorder soon!

Back to Top

Support USA Warriors Ice Hockey by grabbing a copy of Hockey Holidays today!

♥ Hockey Holidays – 99 cents UNTIL MONDAY ♥

18 best-selling authors.
18 exclusive stories.
100% of author proceeds will go to USA Warriors Ice Hockey

USA Warriors Ice Hockey assists wounded veterans by organizing & administering an ice hockey program that provides a recreational, therapeutic experience & education adapted to their ability level.

Don’t wait! Not only is this is a LIMITED RELEASE (off the shelves Nov 30), the price goes up on Monday to $3.99.

🏒 ❄️ 🎄

Amazon ➜
US –
UK –
DE –
FR –

Nook ➜

Kobo ➜

Participating authors: Author Toni Aleo, Shannon Stacey, Jami Davenport, Jaymee Jacobs, Jean Joachim, Jennifer Lazaris, Kat Mizera, Kate Willoughby, Lily Harlem, Lisa B. Kamps, Mary Smith, Melanie Ting, Melody Heck Gatto, Rj Scott, Stephanie Julian, Stephanie Kay, Susan Scott Shelley, Vicki Locey

Back to Top

HOCKEY HOLIDAYS is available today!

HOCKEY HOLIDAYS (A Hockey Romance Holiday Anthology) is available now!

This holiday season unwrap a brand-new collection of hockey romances that includes humor, drama, love, and – of course – hockey! Each novella is EXCLUSIVE to the anthology and NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED by USA Today, New York Times, and all your favorite bestselling hockey romance authors.

**100% of the proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to charity.**

Includes: A Second Shot by Shannon Stacey

She was the one who got away, but when their paths cross once again, all he wants for Christmas is the chance to take another shot at love.

Click here to read an excerpt!

(Scroll down for a complete list of included stories and authors!)

Kindle US ➜

Nook ➜

Kobo ➜

Books2Read link:

International Kindle links:

UK –

DE –

FR –



How We Fell in Love by Toni Aleo

He knew she was the one, she wasn’t so sure, which is why Grace and James’ love story is one for the ages.

A Wolfe Brothers Christmas by Jami Davenport

Spending their first Christmas together in years, the Wolfe brothers fumbling attempts to create good memories go awry.

Christmas Crosscheck by Jaymee Jacobs

Bryan’s planning to propose to Georgiana on Christmas Eve, but will the chaos of their families’ first holiday together ruin their special moment?

The Final Slapshot by Jean C. Joachim

Harry “Deke” Edmonds hides his secret, hoping for a Christmas miracle. When confronted with the truth, will his heart-breaking decision cost him everything?

Lucky Holiday by Jennifer Lazaris

Tyler Quinn made the biggest mistake of his life when he broke Ella’s heart, and he’ll need more than an ace up his sleeve to win her back in time for Christmas.

Dmitri’s Christmas Angel by Kat Mizera

Two women. Two surprise pregnancies. Dmitri Papadakis is screwed.

His Christmas Cinderella by Kate Willoughby

When Gideon Aguilar mistakes Bailey Peng for his Uber driver it leads to a night he can’t forget. But after she disappears the next morning will he be able to find his perfect fit?

Red-Hot Trouble by Lily Harlem

Sophie Delaney never intended to walk into ‘that’ locker room, at ‘that’ moment, but she did, and now she’ll never be the same again.

Christmas Interference by Lisa B. Kamps

Shane Masters no longer believes in happy-ever-afters. Can the woman who knew him best thaw his heart with a little holiday magic before it’s too late?

The Devoted Father and the Introvert by Mary Smith

Elexis Dunaway loves Twitter and work. Dag Limon loves his twin boys and playing professional hockey. Soon their worlds will collide with one simple tweet.

Her Best Worst Boyfriend by Melanie Ting

This Christmas, Em Davis is bringing Mr. Wrong home to prove a point to her parents, but Ian Reid might turn out to be Mr. Right.

Icing isn’t Only for Cookies by Melody Heck Gatto

Avery James wasn’t looking for love when tall, dark, and deliciously handsome hockey player Kyler Wilson walked into her bakery.

Dallas Christmas by RJ Scott

Logan knows lusting after his captain’s brother can only lead to trouble. But when fate throws them together, it’s hard not to fall in love.

The Playboy by Stephanie Julian

Kyle is back in the minors to rehab his career but that’s not all he’s hoping to fix. Convincing the girl he left behind to take another chance on this former playboy will be harder than resurrecting his career.

All I Want by Stephanie Kay

When fate brings first loves Maggie and Alex back to the same city, will Maggie be brave enough to give the relationship she never forgot a second chance?

Holding On Tight by Susan Scott Shelley

For defenseman Vince Forsberg and his boyfriend Joseph Parelli, the pressure to make their first Christmas together perfect leads to a lot of chaos, holiday mishaps, and some unexpected results.

A Star-Crossed Christmas by V.L. Locey

Two years ago, Mitch shared an explosive kiss with his childhood friend Shaun. Will Christmas be the time for the two men to find a future together that works?

Back to Top

The Haunting of Hill House

If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember that I’m really awful at writing reviews. My brain just isn’t analytical in that way, which is why I have five ratings I use for my Movies I Watched list in my bullet journal.

  • Ugh
  • Meh
  • Good
  • SO Good
  • OMG

So I’m not good at reviews, but I want to say a couple of things about The Haunting Of Hill House, a miniseries from Netflix. First, let me say it got an OMG in my bullet journal. Now I’ll fumble around a couple of reasons why…

I’ve never really watched a lot of horror movies. I read tons of horror when I was younger, but movies never worked as well for me. And I left the genre almost entirely when it became more about the blood and gore than the hair standing up on the back of my neck. For me, it’s the unseen that’s truly terrifying. For example, Sixth Sense scared the crap out of me, until they started actually showing the dead people on the screen.

I didn’t really have any intention of watching The Haunting of Hill House, but I heard so many good things and it’s Halloween week, so I hit play.

Good lord, what an excellent, creepy, engrossing, terrifying series.

Exceptional writing. Exceptional directing. Exceptional acting. Exceptional setting. It’s pretty freaking exceptional all around.

No cheap jump scares. No cuing of dramatic music before the cat jumps out of the cupboard to make everybody laugh. The setting is perfect. The makeup and effects are chilling and so real, which matters to me. (See: Sixth Sense.)

This isn’t the kind of horror that mostly has the audience rolling their eyes and then occasionally jumping or screaming when whatever it is flashes on the screen. This is the kind of horror where you spend the time between flashes of terror sitting so still and tense that you don’t realize how scared you are until you try to move and your muscles are tight from the sustained tension.

The exceptional characterization (I’m just going to keep using exceptional, because it is) and acting makes the relationships between the sibling group so engrossing, the actual haunting becomes almost a secondary storyline. (Almost.) This isn’t a story about a family who spent some time in a haunted house but got out and whew, that happened. This is a story about how Hill House truly haunts this family.

Brilliant story.

Creepy af.

Seriously, you should all watch it. Because OMG.


Back to Top

  • Get my latest news straight to your inbox!

    I'll only be sending newsletters when I have news to share, and I'll never share your information. You'll receive an email asking you confirm your subscription (so please check your spam box if you don't receive that). You can unsubscribe at anytime.


  • Affiliation

    Shannon Stacey is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of

    If you purchase a book listed on the site from, she’ll earn a small commission. Thank you!