Posts Tagged ‘books’
Posted on November 19, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Several years ago, when I was still trying to get published, I saw a movie trailer about a writer. He worked in his bathrobe, slept on his couch, never got dressed, and let his housekeeper take care of everything. All he did was write. I thought it was awesome. As the movie trailer continued, he had problems. Lots of problems. But the bathrobe and uncombed hair in pursuit of his passion–I got that.
Since I got published, I do get dressed and function in the outside world. And I do take care of lots of other things besides writing. But because writing is my job–I get away with a lot of fun stuff.
1. Working in my jammies. First I was a hairdresser, then I worked at a bank, then in corporate offices. I had to show up looking presentable. But with writing, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and go to my computer. But don’t come to my house before 2:00. I won’t answer the door until I’m presentable.
2. Working my job around my family. During the school year, I write during the day. In the summer, I write after everyone’s in bed. When they’re around and awake, I focus on them.
3. Flexible hours. On most days, I send my family off to school and work, then write while they’re gone. But if there’s a school function in the middle of the day, a Christmas float to decorate, or a church member in the hospital, I can take the day off without worry.
4.Having a job that requires daydreaming. All of my life, I’ve tried to listen and pay attention, but my mind would wander. With writing–having a wandering mind is encouraged, an active imagination is required, and daydreaming is allowed.
5. Making my characters do whatever I want them to. I’ve always thought I could solve a lot of problems if my friends and family would just take my advice. My characters listen to me and do what I say. It’s the ultimate control freak job.
6. Hearing voices and having imaginary friends. Oh the wonderful people who live in my head. And everyone thinks it’s okay and normal since I’m a writer.
7. Meeting authors. I love going to the bookstore, scanning the names on book spines and counting how many I’ve met. They may not remember me, but I remember them. I’ve talked to Denise Hunter, hugged Lenora Worth, laughed with Mary Connealy, and rode in the elevator with Terri Blackstock—just to drop a few names.
8. Sleeping in fancy hotels with women I barely know. There for a while I was sleeping with someone new at every ACFW conference. The friendships I’ve made through our common pursuit of publication are priceless. Isn’t that nice alliteration?
9. Having writing buds who really get me. There are friends and then there are writing friends. Writing can be very lonely, but not with friends to share the valleys and summits, highs and lows, thrills and spills. When I have writing news—good or bad—I share it with my family, then my writing buds.
10. Connecting with readers. Either in person or online. It’s exhilarating to know someone is actually reading what I write, enjoying it, and appreciating my efforts. Through books, God has blessed me with the ability to witness to more people than my mouth will ever meet.
It worked out for me to be a stay at home mom before I got published. We’d already given up my income, so anything I make now is just a bonus. My hat’s off to the published authors who have a full time job and still manage to write books. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
And to those still seeking publication–don’t give up. Keep writing. Persistence + Patience = Publication. I hope you get to work in your jammies someday soon.
We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s Wedding on the Rocks. Comment to enter – deadline Nov 30th.
When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange—the boy she left behind—whose life’s work is digging up the past?
Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T. rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly in-sync hearts.
Posted on November 17, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Posted on November 5, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’m celebrating my new release, Rodeo Queen by giving away two print copies. Answer the question at the end of the post or comment daily for the next two nostalgic weeks to enter the drawing. Deadline: Nov 16, 11:59 pm central time.
No, I was never a rodeo queen. But I’ve been feeling nostalgic about my latest release, Rodeo Queen. Why would my recently released book make me feel nostalgic? Because it formed in my head as a teenager. It was the story that wouldn’t go away until I finally realized it was a book around 1996. Then it took me three more years to get a hand me down computer and write it.
That’s me in 1999 writing my first ever book about a interior decorator with a stalker and the private detective who protects her. My husband took the picture and it’s my favorite. I was so involved in my story, I didn’t even know he’d taken the picture until we got the film developed. Yep, back then the pictures actually got out of the camera and you didn’t know how they looked until you picked them up from Walmart. I love the picture because it reminds me how supportive he’s been of my writing–from day one. He didn’t complain that I was ignoring or neglecting him, he just took a picture of me doing what I love.
Back to the story, after fifty-two rejection letters on that first book, countless others on six more books–I stopped counting at 200–fourteen years, and seven published books later, that first book I ever wrote releases this month. Rodeo Queen is a reworked version of my first story.
The original version was set in rural Arkansas. Rodeo Queen is the 5th title in my Texas rodeo series and is set in Aubrey, the Fort Worth Stockyards historical district, and Medina, Texas. My heroine morphed into the owner of a blingy western clothing store and a rodeo queen–which lent itself well to the stalker angle. The hero became a Texas Ranger. And in the new version,they were high school sweethearts.
The Medina part was originally in there and it makes me nostalgic too. My hero and herione visit his grandfather’s ranch in Medina twice during the course of the story. The ranch is based on my father-in-law’s ranch in Medina, near San Antonio. My father-in-law passed away, but we still visit his wife–Texas mom–once a year.
I’ve heard countless authors say they have their first awful manuscripts moldering in a drawer, that they’ll never see the light of day, and they shouldn’t. I wasn’t willing to let my story die. I didn’t go back and try to fix that original manuscript with all the knowledge I’ve gained from countless writers’ meetings and conferences, I started from scratch.
And I like the new version better. Readers often ask me which of my books is my favorite. I’ve never really been able to answer that question. It’s like picking your favorite child or pet. I love all of my books–otherwise I wouldn’t have written them.
But I think I’ll play favorites now–Rodeo Queen–hands down.
CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN
Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.
Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?
Remember to enter the drawing daily with each new post from all the inkspers. And if you can’t wait or don’t win, here are a few purchase links for your convenience
Question of the day–for readers or writers. Have you ever had a story in your head that wouldn’t go away?
Posted on September 10, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
When this topic came up, I wasn’t sure if I could come up with ten guilty pleasures. But the more I thought about it, there’s way more than fifteen. I’m doing a countdown to number one to stir things up.
10. A dollop of caramel in my coffee. I’m not even going to list coffee, even though I put three creamers and three sugars and hummingbirds would love my sweet brew. It’s the dollop of caramel syrup that puts my fave beverage over the top.
9. Hallmark movies. They’re so clean and sweet. Why do they make me feel guilty? Because there’s always something else I should be doing other than watch them. But I have gotten book ideas from them. If you take a thread from five different movies and put them together, it’s not plagiarism.
8. The Chronicles of Narnia. I started reading the books back when the first movie came out in 2005. Why? Because I never read them as a kid. I finished the final book just today. Now why do I feel guilty? Because they are children’s books and I really shouldn’t be enjoying them so much. But there’s such an innocence about them, they take me back to a child’s view of the world. I think I’m going to start reading them over again. With writing books and reading inspirational contemporary romances in between, it took me so long to finish, I don’t remember what happened in the first few books.
7. Chocolate covered coffee beans. I consistently pop three at a time at least twice a day. I’ve gotten immune to regular coffee, but the beans rev me up. Plus, there’s chocolate involved.
6. Nabisco Chips Ahoy cookies. Especially dipped in a bowl of milk until they’re so soggy they almost fall apart.
5. Cedar Cove. It’s been a long time since I got hooked on a TV series. But this Hallmark series is based on books by Debbie Macomber. I looked forward to it all summer. Then as the school about to start frenzy got underway and final summer guests visited, I forgot and missed the first episode. But I’ve recorded every episode since. It’s a chick flick, so I have to wait until the roosters are gone to watch. And when the roosters are gone, this hen should be writing.
4. Lunch or dinner with friends. I have one friend I try to eat out with monthly. When we do, we linger for hours just catching up.
3. Reading inspirational contemporary romance. I should be writing it instead. But I’m studying my genre
2. Ice cream. I don’t know why something so delicious has to be so loaded with fat and calories.
1. Shoes. I try to keep my collection down to 60 or less. I even gave some away to the Rotary Club a few years ago when they were asking for donations for teens who couldn’t afford prom attire. I only have two pair I paid more than $15.00 for. And most of my shoes were less than $10.00. Last weekend, I bought a cream-colored satin pair of heels for $4.00. I couldn’t just leave them there, now could I?
Notice how many items on my top ten list involve food.
Posted on May 7, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Hello, my name is Shannon and I am a lifetime primper. I love makeup. I love big hair. Oh, if only the 80′s big hair would come back. And since Rose’s heroine from Wedding on the Rocks is a beauty advisor, I’m certain we would bond.
From the time I knew what makeup was, around nine years old, I wanted to wear it. And I do. I don’t go anywhere without it. Not even to the mail box and definitely not Walmart.
My love for makeup and big hair sent me to cosmetology school. Oh, was I in my element training to make women beautiful. It would be so glamorous. But, it wasn’t. I ended up with hair in my teeth, my bra, and embedded in the bottom of my foot. You haven’t felt pain until you’ve had a freshly clipped piece of hair stuck in your foot like a splinter. I worked as a hairdresser for ten years and hung up my non-glamorous scissors.
But I still love hair and makeup. Many moons ago, when I was 7 months pregnant and on bed rest with nothing else to do, I watched a Dr. Phil episode. He had a lady on there that never left the house without her makeup. I saw no problem with that. I decided she was insane when Dr. Phil talked her into taking her makeup off–ON NATIONAL TELEVISION!!!!!
I’ve compiled lots of tips over the years–from experience and cosmetology school and you’re getting them free. I usually share these when I’m the speaker at ladies’ retreats. So listen up:
Beauty Tip #1 – Moisturizer doesn’t work on a dry face. Steps: Cleanse your face. Pat water on. Let air dry and apply moisturizer.
Beauty Tip #2 – Always apply moisturizer every morning and every night. Dry skin causes wrinkles. Seal the moisturizer in with foundation.
Beauty Tip #3 – Dry skin = wrinkles. Tanning = dry skin. Don’t tan your face. If you tan the rest of your body and you end up pale-faced, use a bronzer.
Beauty Tip #4 – Eyeliner defines your eyes. Even if you don’t take the time for eyeshadow, line your eyes.
Beauty Tip #5 – Foundation seals moisturizer in. It doesn’t do any good to moisturize if you don’t seal it in.
Beauty Tip #6 – Get your hair trimmed every 6 weeks. Getting rid of split ends maintains a sleek look and keeps hair healthy.
Beauty Tip #7 – Translucent powder smooths and gives the illusion of perfection. After applying makeup, pat with loose translucent powder.
Beauty Tip #8 – Neutral brown or gray shadow looks good with any skin tone.
Beauty Tip #9 – Skin and hair fade as you age. If you color your gray, go about two shades lighter than your used-to-be natural color.
Beauty Tip #10 – Chlorine and sun dry skin and hair. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Beauty Tip #11 – Never pull down on the delicate skin underneath the eye. Not to apply makeup or put in contacts. Causes bags.
Beauty Tip #12 – Bangs soften a long forehead.
Beauty Tip #13 – Hair parted down the middle draws attention to your nose. Which is fine, if you have a pretty one.
Beauty Tip #14 – If your jaw is square, wear your hair in a rounded style to soften angles.
Beauty Tip #15 – If your face is round, wear your hair in a blunt, squared style to soften.
Beauty Tip #16 – Test foundation on your wrist for color match.
Beauty Tip #16 – Test foundation on the inside of your wrist for color match.
Beauty Tip #17 – The secret to great eyeshadow: blending.
Beauty Tip #18 – The secret to great blush: blending.
Beauty Tip #19 – Get your eyebrows professionally waxed. Then pluck what grows back in.
Final Beauty Tip #20 – Embrace your age–whatever it is. If you feel good about yourself, you look good.
HOW CAN YOU WIN A COPY OF WEDDING ON THE ROCKS?
Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks AND TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment during the next two weeks and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s 4 chances to win a book every time you comment here at Inkspirational Messages in the next two weeks.
Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.
Posted on April 22, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
When the topic of sister’s came up, I was at a loss for a moment. I’m an only child. No sisters. Or brothers. So, I have to go way back for this post. Bear with me.
Shortly before I was born, my parents planned to move to Michigan. Mama knew a woman with a daughter named Shannon. She asked the woman if she’d mind Mama naming me Shannon since me and the other Shannon would probably never know each other.
Twelve years later, we moved back to Arkansas. Seven years later, I married the other Shannon’s brother. Though we look nothing alike, our shared name has confused many over the years. Long ago, I went to my boss’ bank to cash my check because it was closer than my bank. The teller told me she couldn’t cash the check unless Shannon was there. For a long time, our butane deliverer thought my husband and his sister lived in our house. And now, even though her name hasn’t been Vannatter in a really long time, people think my sister-in-law writes books.
For the first few years my husband and I were married, Shannon and I had a good time together. We embarked on exercise plans, went to see a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton concert, and turned her hair every color under the sun—including Bozo orange. Relax, I was a hairdresser and she’d turned her hair green trying to do it on her own. I had to get it to orange to get the green out. In the end, it turned out a nice natural looking dark brown. Disclaimer: Don’t try this at home.
But then she married a man from Memphis and moved there. Then they moved to Mississippi. During those years, we went to visit each place once. She came here about once a month, but there was never enough time to really enjoy being sisters-in-law.
Last year, she moved back. At first, I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I was used to not having her around. And I run in fifteen directions most of the time with book deadlines on top of everything else. But it finally hit me, my sister-in-law is back and I need to make time for her.
So far, we’ve entertained her grandson and my son on a road trip with my mother-in-law. We’ve gone flea-marketing and shopping. She and my mother-in-law brought our son to visit, when my husband was in the hospital. Together, his sister and I went to pick him up after his release. We’ve stayed after church and just talked.
We’re planning to have lunch soon and maybe we’ll set up a date for me to turn her hair orange just for old-time’s sake.
This time spent together made me realize, I missed her. Who could I possibly have more in common with than my husband’s sister? We both love the same man.
Now its your turn. Every time you share one of your sister stories in the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of When Love Calls for yourself and a matching copy for a sister. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.
Posted on February 12, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Dylan Taylor. Just his name almost makes me swoon. It’s not his picture on the cover, though that’s pretty yummy too, but the way Denise Hunter wrote him that makes me palpitate.
I started reading The Trouble with Cowboys not liking Dylan. I’d gotten a glimpse of him in Book 2 in Denise’s A Big Sky Romance series. I thought Dylan was a ladies’ man, a player, a playboy running from commitment. And Annie, the heroine did too. But we were both wrong. Dylan’s not like that at all.
In scene one, he chipped away at my resolve by worrying about his horse. In his second scene, he showed he loves kids. And before I knew it, I was in love. This handsome cowboy was deeply wounded using his carefree facade to hide behind. Months after reading the book, I can still hear his slow drawl, see his swagger, feel the beckoning of his dimple.
Here’s the blurb: Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.
Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.
Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.
Usually when I read a series, I can pick a favorite book and sometimes there’s even one book I’m disappointed in. Not so with this series. Since The Trouble with Cowboys is Book 3 in the series, readers should begin with Book 1 – A Cowboy’s Touch, then Book 2 – The Accidental Bride . Just see if you can keep from falling in love with Wade, Travis, and Dylan. Come on, I dare you.
Posted on January 29, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
I’d read about, heard about, and learned about timeline for years. So, when it came to my first book getting published, I’d already done my timeline. This book was based around Valentine’s Day. It started on Valentine’s Day and ended on Easter. The timeline was very definite. Or so I thought.
Imagine my shock when I got my very first content edit and the editor said I needed to show passage of time. I’d done okay from Feb. to April., but then I didn’t show any passage of time and the next month I mentioned was Sept. which made the editor go, “Whoa.”
You don’t want your editor to go, “Whoa” or your reader for that matter. So here’s my timeline recipe.
Remember I’m a pantser, so I write the book with no definite timeline in mind. I basically just pick a month to start the book in. If it’s a continuing series, the last book often sets the timeline. As I go along, if I realize I need to get a certain event in a certain month, I change the timeline accordingly.
After I finish the book and start editing, I staple several sheets of paper together. I scan through the book and write it down scene by scene. Not everything in the scene, just the pivotal stuff such as: hero and heroine meet at wedding.
Once I get all my scenes written down, I grab my trusty calendar and figure out a day by day pattern for each scene. I mark days and dates for each scene. Again if I realize I have a scene set at Christmas and my time line isn’t going to get me to Christmas, I change timing. Instead of something happening day by day, I’ll change it to week by week or even month by month. By the time I get done, my sheets have marked out dates and scribbles all over them.
Once I get my timeline worked out, then I go back in the manuscript and put the timing in each scene.
Here’s some tips on how to show passage of time:
- The next day, Caitlyn went to work.
- A week later, Mitch checked his computer.
- On September 27th, Caitlyn went to work.
Some of these might work in a pinch, but not for every scene and they’re boring. Try to mix it up.
- Caitlyn drained her coffee, hoping it might perk her up. She’d barely slept last night after the argument with Mitch.
- Mitch checked his computer. Had it really been a week since he’d seen Caitlyn?
- Late September gold, yellow, and red leaves rustled in the trees outside Caitlyn’s store window.
Aren’t these more interesting?
My recipe will work for plotters too. Just work the timeline in when you’re doing your outline or whatever it is you weirdoes do
The only problem I’ve run into was with the last book I turned in to my new publisher. My new editor asked for info for my cover about a month and a half before my deadline. I hadn’t quite finished the book and hadn’t pinned down the timeline. I had to stop and do that because they wanted descriptions of scenes including the season. With the book I’m currently writing, I’m trying to get my timeline a little more set as I write.
How do you handle timeline and passage of time?
Posted on January 15, 2013 - by Shannon Vannatter
Every writer has the story of their heart. The one that pulls and tugs at them until they write it, even if it’s something unsellable or hopelessly out of vogue. From the time I was fifteen, I had this story in my head. It played over and over. I’d change it as I went along, add new complications, try different endings. Sometimes late at night, I’d even act it out in my bedroom. I didn’t tell anyone about it. They’d think I was weird.
I watched a lot of detective shows then, mostly Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, and Vegas. My story was a girl in jeopardy and the detective who moved mountains to keep her safe. Of course, along the way, they fell in love. I thought it was a movie, but I wasn’t going to Hollywood. So what to do with it, other than play it over and over in my head, act it out, and tweak scenes?
After I met the guy of my dreams and had my own romance going on, I left the story in my head deep in the recesses of my brain. Until my new husband worked nights and I worked days which left me a lot of thinking and TV time. A short-lived detective series, Wolf, starring the yummy Jack Scalia got me thinking about that story again. But I still had no idea what to do with it.
About ten years later, when searching the library for a clean romance and not finding any, I finally realized–Hey, that story in my head could be a book. But I didn’t have a computer. And I wasn’t a very fast or accurate typist. I set the story aside again, but promised myself if I ever got a computer, I’d write it.
Three years later, my father-in-law got a new computer and gave me his old one. As soon as it was hooked up, I started the book. The words flowed from my fingers. A funny thing happened as I wrote. My characters started talking to God. I’d set out for clean romance and ended up with Christian romantic suspense.
Three months later, I had it completed. Now, what? I headed to the library and learned about the Writer’s Market Guide. I had no clue my book was badly written, that writing is a craft you learn and hone, that you have to show the reader your story instead of simply telling it. And I thought I was starting a new trend. I had no idea there were Christian romance novels since I always hung out in the music section of the Christian book store. Imagine my amazement, when I found fifty-two Christian publishers looking for books just like I’d written. Not necessarily the suspense part, but maybe I could still start a new trend.
I really thought that all I had to do was write a book, send it to publishers, and the right one would publish my baby. Everything was by mail then. I sent out ten proposals. With each rejection I received, I sent out another submission. Imagine my amazement, when all fifty-two rejected me.
But my story ends well. Eight badly written books later, I finally attended enough writers conferences, took enough workshops, and joined ACFW to learn to hone my craft, show the reader my story, and draw them in. I managed to polish one of those badly written books and interest a publisher. Three years later, six published books later, and a contract for three more books later, the Christian romantic suspense genre is thriving and I’m polishing the book of my heart. With some tweaks, that is.
My original story was set in a fictional small Arkansas town. The heroine was an interior decorator, the hero was a detective. But once my three book rodeo series turned into six books, I dusted off old ideas and manuscripts. The story of my heart is now book 5 in my rodeo series titled Rodeo Queen, the heroine owns western clothing stores at the Fort Worth Stockyards and the Galleria Dallas and serves as the rodeo queen at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo. The hero is a Texas Ranger.
I learned two things a long time ago: 1. I stink at fight and shoot em up scenes. 2. I don’t want to learn ballistics and deal with dead bodies. This version of the story of my heart is less suspense, heavy on the romance. The suspense basically just brings them together. I started from scratch on the manuscript. That’s another thing I’ve learned: It’s easier to rewrite than to polish a very badly written book.
Brenda recently critiqued the first sixty pages for me. She commented that she loved my voice and characters. This book has been a breeze to write. I know exactly what happens and I’ve known these people since I was fifteen. God is good!
Question: Based on what you know about me, who was I in love with–Starsky? Or Hutch?
Posted on December 4, 2012 - by Shannon Vannatter
Shannon here: I’ve never met Shawna, but she’s Arkansas gal like me. And since she has a Christmas book out, I snagged her for my inksper interview. Shawna is giving away an e-book copy of A Hand to Hold and a cute pair of snowman earrings (pictured). Comment on any post dated Dec 3 – 7 to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: Dec 8th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Shawna:
1.) What is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc? How did you solve it?
This biggest challenge for me this past year has been balancing life with my writing career. This past year has been a tough one with the sudden loss of a close friend, spiritual attacks within our circle of friends, and the failing health of both mine and my husband’s parents. With the holidays, conference, and my dad’s numerous surgeries I found myself traveling every couple of weeks from about late November through May. Apart from writing, I also work as an editor for two small presses, home school three teens, and manage the social media for The Wordsmith Journal Magazine and work as their submissions editor for short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. I had a book due at the first of August. I managed to get it written, and I absolutely love the story, but my constant state of stress this past year was hard on me and consequently also hard on my family.
My solution for now is a promise I made to my family to not sign another book contract based on a proposal without the book being at least half written. The second half usually goes fast because at that point the story is firm in my mind. If it’s not firm, that means I probably need to scrap the first half because clearly there’s no direction.
My hope is this will encourage me to make time for writing in shorter increments, but more frequently, like daily, or every other day.
Last year I kept putting it off, trying to create space in my mind by tending to everything else first. While I’m very proud of the story that finally came together, the path I took to complete it was littered with more than a few “freak out” episodes. I tend to be one who holds everything in, so these weren’t pretty. Lol! My youngest daughter told me, “Mom, for fourteen years I’ve never seen you cry, and now you can’t stop.”
I’m happy to say the leak now seems to be plugged.
2.) What is the one thing you’d like to share with other writers?
Remember that you love to tell stories. No matter how frustrated you may feel. Never forget that’s why you chose this path. It’s not about notoriety, money, or whether or not everybody just loves your work. You write because you have to; you love it, and you will explode if you aren’t able to get these stories out of your heart and head and into the written word. In a sense, you’re making your characters real because they no longer just live in your head.
Also, be true to yourself and write what you feel passionate about — what excites you. That emotional involvement carries through in your choice of words. Readers can tell.
3.) Where is the coziest spot in your home?
The coziest room in the house is the reading room. Our house was built in 1941 and renovated in 1980, and currently under never-ending slow renovation again. I’m fairly certain that the reading room was formerly a porch and enclosed at some point in the past. Now it’s the cozy little room with the book shelves and Victorian sofa off at one end of the house. Very quiet and isolated for settling in for some alone time.
4.) What is your most laughable dating story?
I once almost shot my date’s dad. This was before I met hubby.
My date had asked me over to his uncle’s ranch. Huge house, lots of land, four wheelers, swimming pool, equipment for every sort of outdoor recreation in existence. It was late fall, so it was too cold to swim. But after having a great time on the four wheelers, my date wanted to teach me how to shoot skeet.
His dad had come up for the weekend, so we went into the house and he asked his dad about the guns and clay disks. All three of us went outside and my date demonstrated how to shoot as his dad threw a disk. Then it was my turn, and he helped me position the rifle, explained the site and all that. When I said I was ready, he threw a disk. I watched it as it fell into the line of site and followed to make sure I had it. With very intent focus, I followed it down… and down… and just as I pulled the trigger my date hit the end of the rifle to knock my aim upward.
My response: “Why’d you do that?” Then I noticed his dad was lying on the ground on his belly looking at me with very large eyes. Apparently he’d been walking in front of me as I followed the clay disk as it fell. According to my date, my aim was about to line up with his dad’s head. Key words being “about to.” The date could’ve been much worse.
We went inside to watch a movie after that. Slim risk of injury while sitting idle.
5.) Which amusement park ride is your favorite and why?
Roller coasters. They scare me to death and I love it.
6.) Would you rather live a week in the past or a week in the future?
This is a hard question for me. I’m completely intrigued by the past. I love history and spend a fair amount of time researching and broadening my knowledge on it. But what you don’t know about me is that I grew up with a Trekkie mom. We were raised watching Star Trek, Star Wars… First in line at the movies to see Close Encounters or any other Sci Fi flick that came out. Some of them were real stinkers too.
Now that I have my own family, we have Star Wars marathons, Firefly marathons, Stargate marathons, Battlestar Galatica marathons, Lord of the Rings marathons… Oh wait, that’s fantasy, not future. Well, you get my point. I enjoy the escapism that comes with imagining futuristic possibilities and adventures. Except Stargate is actually current day science fiction, and hmm… Star Wars was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. Okay, I digress.
As fun as the futuristic fantasies may be, I’d have to go with the past — ancient history. There are so many mysteries to speculate about and I’d like to know how it really was. Might need more than a week. The Egyptian, Greek, and Roman empires didn’t exactly coincide. If I had to choose one, I want to see what Pharaoh Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti, and their new capital city el-Armarna (abandoned and dismantled after his death) was all about.
7.) How do you balance writing, exercise, home, etc.?
Not very well. My house is never as clean as I’d like these days, and as far as exercise goes, I have very fit fingers.
8.) Who is your biggest cheerleader?
That would be dear hubby. He’s not really a fiction reader, and for awhile after I started writing he didn’t want to read my stories. He was afraid they’d be sappy and he’d be bored. He’s blunt, so he’d tell me, which is actually why I wanted him to read them. I didn’t want to write sappy or boring and I needed to know. If I could hold his attention, then maybe I had some skill.
The biggest boost I ever got was one Saturday morning when I was sleeping in, and hubby woke me up by shaking my shoulder while holding my Kindle in his other hand. He’d woken up early and decided to read my latest WIP (work in progress). I’d loaded several chapters onto my Kindle to review. Well, he got to the end of those and couldn’t stand not knowing what happened next, so he woke me up to get me to hurry and load the next chapters so he could continue.
He’s always encouraged me, even before he read anything I wrote, but now he also believes in me, and he lets everyone know it. That feels really great.
9.) What is the best book you’ve read recently, and why did you like it?
I’m a huge Francine Rivers fan. The Mark of the Lion series is my favorite. I really can’t decide between the three books because they’re all just wonderful. I think God has really blessed her with the ability to portray human nature: our fears, longings, frailties. She also writes with great compassion, and the theme of Grace is continual throughout her stories. She never compromises on principal though, even the characters’ failings add to the underlying theme through both consequence and redemption. Her stories just fill me with hope. Who doesn’t need that?
10.) What is your favorite season and why?
I adore late fall and early winter. I just love crunchy leaves under my feet, the smell of burning wood in the fireplace, and the stillness that settles in after a good snow. When it snows, I bundle up, go outside and walk until my limbs are numb, come inside and thaw, and then do it again. Just love it! It’s so cozy and peaceful and something about it makes me feel appreciative of everything around me.
11.) The biggest challenge in writing this book?
The biggest challenge in writing A Hand to Hold was time and space. Head and heart space. I can’t write a story with an uninvolved heart, and for my heart to be involved, I need to immerse myself in the setting and with the characters and their journeys. That’s hard to do when your world is in turmoil and head cluttered.
My dad has Parkinson’s disease, and he also has a degenerative spine. He’d had surgery last Nov to fuse discs, but he fell and the screws all pulled out of the bone. The other issue with my dad was that something about the anesthesia and his meds caused him to hallucinate and not be rational at all. His advanced Parkinson’s contributes to this but after his surgery it was far worse, and for a while we didn’t know if we were going to get him back. This pattern continued following his next three surgeries, and well into his recovery. My sister and I both live eight hours from my parents, so we were trying to balance life with our own families and see that our parents’ needs were met.
This plus other struggles here in our community and financially kind of cluttered my mind, kept me busy, and then other duties I’d put on the back burner while looking after my dad took priority. I kept thinking, “Just let me get this out of the way, then I can focus.” Next thing I knew, I had two months to my deadline and nothing written but a synopsis and the first two chapters of the book — lousy chapters I might add.
This is where God stepped in because I swear, writing this was such a blur. He brought me to that place where I could immerse myself and somehow a story was formed. Rewrote the two lousy chapters and the rest just followed. I really love how it turned out. I think readers will too.
12.) What do the Post-Its around your computer/screen/ bulletin board say?
I don’t do Post-Its. I’m a random file maker. Every time I think of something I make a file. Sometimes I send myself emails. My documents section is loaded with files titled, “To-do list number 35″,”Confused character ramblings” (I use these a lot to work out my character’s mindset) “Story title outline # 10″, “To-do list number 36″, “Christmas list”, “Stuff to remember”, “CLEAN YOUR HOUSE schedule”, etc.
13.) If you could have free unlimited service for one year from a cook, chauffer, personal secretary, housekeeper, or masseuse, which would you choose and why?
Housekeeper, hands down! I hate having a messy house and I can’t seem to get on top of it.
14.) Which character in your books is the most like you? How?
Hmm… This is a hard question. I know that there’s some of me in each character. I probably identify most with Pennye and Jakob. Pennye is the heroine from my book The Good Fight, and Jakob is the hero in No Other and In All Things. He also has a fairly large role in The Good Fight as Roger’s once rival now determined to be his friend.
With Pennye, I think I can relate to the underlying insecurities she struggles with. Despite how confident I may try and convince you I am, I struggle. She’s the same. I think we all have those little areas of sensitivity we try and conceal because it really hurts when they get poked! At the same time, these very things make us who we are, and give us the ability to empathize and show compassion. I wouldn’t want to lose that ability, and if having a few sensitive spots helps me to be more caring and understanding of others, I’ll take it.
Jakob is actually similar. His character feels very deeply, not just for himself but for others, and he wants to fix everything for everybody because of this. When he can’t, he views it as an inadequacy on his part. Of course, that’s twisted and wrong, and learning to rely on God for this role is the major part of his journey in the books No Other and In all Things. I guess that might have been a journey for me too.
About Shawna: Having never considered becoming a writer, Shawna K. Williams’ path changed in a single night all because of a dream. Her early writings were a mere attempt to fill in gaps within the dream and satisfy her curiosity, but later became the inspiration for her first two novels. She is a content editor for Desert Breeze Publishing and Solstice Publishing, acquisitions editor/social media specialist for The Wordsmith Journal Magazine, speaker, homeschooling mom and multi-published author of twentieth century historical fiction. Shawna enjoys books in almost any genre as long as they contain strong characters tackling real-life grit. She also has a thing for dogs and pygmy goats, and believes the world would be a better place if people aspired to be the person their pet believes them to be.
Shawna’s books: No Other, In All Things, The Good Fight, Orphaned Hearts, and coming in Dec. 2012: A Hand to Hold. All books are available as ebooks. No Other is also in print, In All Things releases in print in November 2012, and all other books will be available in print in 2013. Learn more: http://shawnakwilliams.com/, http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/, https://twitter.com/shawnakwilliams, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245
About the book – A Hand to Hold by Shawna K. Williams:Having come to Brady Hill as an orphan, Caleb Langley cherishes his memories of growing up in a place where he was embraced, nurtured and loved. With the zinc mine closed and the town in near ruin, he agonizes over what can be done to save his home.
Sarah Sheldon, the little girl Caleb adopted in his heart as a sister, has lived life in the shadows of a once glorious town. She’s resentful those around her are held captive by old memories, and refuse to let go and move on. To Sarah, the demise of Brady Hill may be the best thing that ever happened.
Caleb is dismayed that Sarah’s view of growing up in Brady Hill differs so much from his own. In his determination to save the town, he also sets out to alter her perception. In doing so, might he learn to see Sarah in a new light as well?