If I could sum up Shannon in one word, it would be dedicated. She dedicates herself to everything she does – for her family, the church, her writing, and her friendships. As one of her friends, I appreciate that dedication, because she has been a great blessing in my life! I’m proud of you, Shannon! Thanks for sharing with us today. – Linda
Two of Shannon’s books up for grabs, White Doves and Rodeo Hero. Two books, two winners. Comment on this post to get your name in the drawing. Deadline August 17th, 11:59 pm central time.
Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife, and award winning inspirational romance novelist. She’s had 5 books released since 2010 with four more to come. Find her books at amazon.com, barbourbooks.com, and readerservice.com. Her latest title, Rodeo Ashes will be available at Kmart in Sept. and Walmart in Oct. Learn more at http://shannonvannatter.com/ and http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/.
- Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I thought writer’s block was a myth until it happened to me. I work on another writing project. Usually, once I rid my mind of the project I got blocked on, the ideas start rolling. If that doesn’t work, I go for a walk, drive aimlessly, mow the yard, or shower. Any mundane task can get me thinking and when I think, I plot. Occasionally, it takes a change of scenery. Usually moving my laptop out to the front porch.
- What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine?
During the school year, I write from 8:30 to 2:30. In the summer, from 11:00 to 2:00 AM. When my family is home and awake, I don’t write. Occasionally, when I’m on deadline, I have to break that rule. But I try not to let my writing take away from my family.
- You write a lot of setting-based stories. Which comes first for you – picking the setting, the story, or the characters?
The characters and story come first, then I pick the setting. I used to base all my books in fictional towns. But after a few publishers wanted real settings, I realized it’s fun to use real places and it really draws the reader in. I try to use settings that I’ve actually been to. If I stick with that, all of my books will either take place in Arkansas, Texas, or Georgia. Yep, I’m a world traveler.
(Hey – you forgot North Dakota! Surely you haven’t forgotten the day the riff-raff went north! – LF)
- While you are writing, did you ever feel as if you are one of the characters?
I become each character as I write them. Even the men. I try to get in their heads and get in touch with their feelings. I put myself in each situation and wonder how I’d feel if it happened to me.
- What was the hardest part about writing your last book?
I had to do it in four months. If I don’t have to write a book, three months is no problem. But with a deadline, the words don’t flow as easily. Once I get a fourth of the way into a book, I know the characters and everything starts to flow. The beginning is always hardest for me.
- What is your favorite part of the book-writing process and why?
The first draft midway through the book. I’m a pantser. And I honestly don’t know each little thing that will happen in a book. Even after I’ve written the synopsis first, things pop up as I write the book. Characters do things I didn’t plan and I love just going with it and thinking, Whoa, I didn’t see that coming.
- What book(s) have you read that made you think, “Wow! I wish I had written that!”?
Everything I’ve read by Denise Hunter. I love her characters and the romance in her books. I fall in love with each hero.
- Tell us about your recent research trip – do you research travel to get inspired for the story or do you already have the story & go on research trips simply to flesh out details?
Both. For my rodeo series, Rodeo Dust was turned in before I went to the Fort Worth Stockyards. I went to the rodeo and then added more detail and changed things I had wrong in the editing stage.
I witnessed a cattle drive through the town. I’d heard about it and pictured it as being like the running of the bulls. It wasn’t like that at all. The longhorns just meander along in an orderly fashion and turn when they’re supposed to. It inspired a scene in Rodeo Hero. I had one of my characters experience my expectations of the cattle drive verses the reality.
I visited the Cattlepen Maze, a human-sized maze and had the idea that my couple could get into an argument in the maze, but she can’t get out of it to get away from him. It didn’t fit in Rodeo Hero, so my characters almost kiss in the maze. In Rodeo Ashes, the argument fit, so I used it.
We recently took a Texas trip. I had a book signing at Moms on Main in Aubrey where all my characters eat after church. My second signing was at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum at the Fort Worth Stockyards. After that, we went to visit family in Medina, near San Antonio. My husband took our son on a wild boar hunt and I think that’s going to end up in book four, Rodeo Regrets. My son took down a 175 pound boar with one shot of a 30 – 30. He’s ten.
We visited two Cabella’s and two Bass Pro Shops. I compared them to Hotel California. You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave. Still I got ideas for my hero’s cabin in book five, Rodeo Queen. In that book, my characters go to Medina and San Antonio. The hero is a Texas Ranger, so we visited the Texas Ranger Museum in San Antonio. I really didn’t think I’d use any of it, since it was all history and I write contemporaries. But I was working on my synopsis the other day and my hero takes my heroine to the museum.
I get lots of ideas on research trips. My husband can tell when I’m plotting and getting ideas. He says, “She’s not here anymore.”
(Thanks for taking time during your trip to stop for late night Starbucks with me! I’m SO glad you were able to stop & chat! – LF)
- Tell us about your new contract – how many books, titles, who is publishing it, etc.
I recently signed a contract for three more rodeo titles to continue my series. Heartsong Presents is now owned by Harlequin. My agent sent the new editor an e-mail about me. The editor had just read book two in my rodeo series and loved it. My agent asked if I had anything else along those lines. I didn’t, but there was a character in the series, the rodeo slut that I wanted to explore. Book four, Rodeo Regrets will be her story. Book five, Rodeo Queen and six, Rodeo Song will be her sister and cousin.
The line will stay the same, the book club will stay the same, but with bigger distribution. The books will be available in K Mart in September and Walmart in October. So everybody go buy Heartsong Presents titles. If sales go well, it will become permanent.
Here’s the blurb about Rodeo Ashes:
It’s never too late to start over.
Lacie Gentry, a young widow and mom, is struggling with the aftermath of her husband’s tragic death. When she bumps into former classmate Quinn Remington, her future is undecided. She accepts a job teaching kids to ride at Quinn’s neighboring ranch, hoping to revitalize her life with an old pastime but soon sees in Quinn a chance to move forward with new love. . .if she’s ready.
It’s been years since Quinn has seen lovely Lacie Gentry—the girl he always admired in high school but never came close to dating. By the time they met, Lacie was engaged to rodeo star Mel Gentry then happily married. Now Lacie’s closer than ever. The attraction is still there, but so is a secret that might end any chance of romance.
Can they rise from the rodeo ashes?