Category Archives: Inspirational

Harlequin’s Search for a Killer Voice

Announcing! The Search for a Killer Voice!

This is Katy Lee, and as many of you know, I sold to Love Inspired Suspense on one of their pitch contests. I have since gone on to sell two more books and hopefully many, many more to come. Seeing as I am a “success” with these contests, I can’t help but be a cheerleader for the latest and greatest contest, The Search for the Killer Voice. If you are an Inspirational Romantic Suspense writer, I do hope you will give it a shot and send your first page in.

Now, here are the details:

The Search for a Killer Voice photo

Love Inspired Suspense is on the search for some new superstar authors, and we want you! If you think you’ve got the chops to wow us with your high intensity, fast paced inspirational romantic suspense manuscript, we encourage you to pitch it to us in The Search for a Killer Voice!

For this pitch opportunity, Love Inspired Suspense editors Emily RodmellElizabeth MazerShana AsaroGiselle Regus and Emily Krupin will be on the lookout for fresh talent. We invite you to show us that you’re the total package in these four stages:

1. Voice—Demonstrate that you’ve got the voice to keep readers on the edge of their seats by submitting your first page. Authors who wow us will move on to Stage 2.
2. Plot—Show us that your plotting skills are as strong as your voice by submitting your synopsis. Authors that have an amazing plot and conflict will move on to Stage 3.
3. Substance—Prove that the first page wasn’t a fluke by offering us a bit more of what you got and submitting three chapters. Authors who keep the story racing along will move on to Stage 4.
4. Full package—Convince us you’re the real deal by submitting your full manuscript. The sky’s the limit for these authors. A contract could be within your reach if you bring it all together into a rockin’ Love Inspired Suspense manuscript.

If you make it through, you could be the next contracted author for Love Inspired Suspense. But we won’t leave you to do it all on your own. We’ll be sharing helpful master class blog posts along the way telling you exactly what is required in a “killer” Love Inspired Suspense manuscript. And once we decide who will be getting a synopsis request, each editor will choose a team of authors. So you’ll know exactly who is looking at your book throughout the stages, and you can ask questions on our individual bio threads. Every author who makes it to stage 4 will receive an initial decision (contract, reject or revision request) on their submissions by August 8.

Here’s our timeline: 
ROUND ONE
February 12
 – START WITH A BANG round. Submit the first page of your inspirational romantic suspense manuscript targeted toward Love Inspired Suspense to LISPitch2014@harlequin.ca from today until March 14.
March 14 – All first pages must be in house. Editorial team will review the entries over the next 2 weeks and choose the most exciting voices to move on to the next stage.

ROUND TWO
March 28
 – HOLD ON TIGHT round. Editors will announce which entries will be moving on to the next round. Chosen entries will be selected by the 5 editors to form our teams. The authors on the teams will be invited to submit their synopsis by April 7 to the email box.
April 7 – All synopses must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and choose the ones whose plots back up the potential in their voice to move on to the next stage.

ROUND THREE
April 28
 – REEL US IN round. Editors will review the synopses and announce which authors on our teams will be going to the next round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their first three chapters.
May 8 – All entries of the first three chapters must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and narrow down the ones that maintain the intensity we saw in the first page to move on to the final stage.

ROUND FOUR
May 29
 – SEAL THE DEAL round. Editors will announce which of our team members will be going on to the final round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their complete manuscript. Authors who are not moving on will privately receive personalized feedback. Authors who are moving on will have until June 9 to submit their full manuscripts.
June 9 – All full manuscripts must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team and decide next steps. During the next 60 days, decisions will be made to contract, send a revision letter, or reject each of the stories. All authors who submit full manuscripts will receive notification of our decision within this time frame.

FINAL RESULTS!!
August 8
 – We will announce the results of the pitch in a blog post that wraps up the pitch, shares our thoughts on the highs and lows, highlights any sales and gives stats on the results for the full manuscript submissions.

Sound exciting? If you think you could rock this pitch, get ready to show us your stuff. Read our team bios, the info on formatting guidelines, and the blog on an amazing first page, then start those books. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Love Inspired Suspense. Only one entry per author, please. Deadlines are tight, so keep writing while you’re waiting to hear back. And if your book is complete now, don’t forget to tell us in your email. You never know. We might want to pounce on your killer voice right away.  Ready, set, GO!

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Grave Danger by Katy Lee: Cover Revealed!

I don’t think I will ever tire of receiving my book covers. It is such an exciting email to receive. Although, I will admit I open them slowly and with one eye shut. It’s kind of like one of those trick cans that might or might not explode snakes in your face. Do you remember those? When my brother was little he thought “tricking” people, or I should say me, into opening them was the funniest thing. Me: not so much.

But back to the unveiling of Grave Danger. My childhood scars can wait. My point is, when I receive the email with my book covers, I really don’t know what the art department put together to express the story I have written. So that moment of clicking Open Attachment is definitely a breath-holding moment.

It soon becomes a sighing-smile moment, though. I shouldn’t fret. The artists know the market and what the readers like. I can trust that to be so. They have mine and the publisher’s best interests at heart.

And now for the second book that takes place on Stepping Stones Island, Maine, where the lobster traps are always full and romance awaits even the hardest of hearts. Here is Grave Danger.

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BONES OF CONTENTION

When skeletal remains are found on a small Maine island, forensic anthropologist Lydia Muir is sent to investigate. It’s Lydia’s job to determine whether the homicide happened long ago—or more recently. Island sheriff Wesley Grant seems sure the murder didn’t happen on his watch. But when Lydia uncovers the victim’s identity, someone goes to great lengths to get Lydia off the island. Wes vows to protect her, but is the handsome lawman holding something back? To help catch a killer, she’ll have to trust him—or become the next victim.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

And now to show how the art department at Harlequin carried the seascape scene over from book one, Warning Signs, here is the first cover in the Stepping Stones Island series.

Warning Signs Cover

After these two, I am looking forward to seeing the cover of book three, Sunken Treasure, which will release in September. (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what that one is about.) Maybe I’ll open that email with both eyes open. Maybe.

Readers, I do hope you will check out Grave Danger this coming May. It is available for preorder, and you can add it to your Goodreads TBR pile now by clicking here.

Thank you for stopping by for the unveiling!

Jill Richardson Shares Her Latest Hobbit Companion

Jill Richardson is the author of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World. I wanted toHobbit have her here on the Scribes today, because, for one, I am a Tolkein fan, and two, she brings prizes! But first, let’s find out why she wrote her latest book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World.

Welcome Jill!

Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? How does that matter to God? How do we learn from both of those things

Describe what the book is about, how it’s organized, and what a reader can expect.

It’s about twenty Tolkien characters, who they are, what makes them do what they do, good or bad, and how that relates to both God and the reader. As far as organization, each character is introduced, quoted, and discussed. Add a relevant Bible passage, discussion/journal questions, and action steps for each person to take going forward. Choose to memorize the short Scripture at the end. A reader can expect to be  both entertained and challenged. I try to have a lot of fun with it, but I don’t shy away from tough questions and applications. Teenagers are capable of asking tough questions. They are more than able to recognize things that need changing. I refuse to talk down to a teenager or make it easy for them. They are intelligent, fun, and up for a challenge, and that’s what I make the book as well.

Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn’t at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she’s a princess who isn’t afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

How could this book help youth leaders disciple kids?

The book takes twenty  character traits everyone can relate to. It pulls that trait out of a Tolkien character and then relates it to the Bible. Can a teen learn about dealing with pride, frustration, or fear from Thorin, Eowyn, or Aragorn? Can she learn to find hope in hopelessness from Arwen? Can he understand how to channel his crazy whims from Pippin? Absolutely—and I have a few national youth leaders, college professors, and authors backing me on that claim!

What’s here they won’t get in the book or the movie?

A relationship between the fandom and the Bible. What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

How do you see teens, parents, and churches using this book?

Of course, it’s a devotional, so I see teens using it for their daily (or sort of daily–I know what it’s like) reading and praying time. Parents and grandparents play a huge role in finding resources for their kids and giving them to them. Parents, youth leaders, grandparents, any caring adults in a kid’s life (and let’s face it, some have so few)–should be seeking out resources to help kids build character. That’s really the point. That it entertains as well—bonus! I can easily see youth leaders using it in a group setting, and I actually have lesson plans for that. Best of all—kids can give it to their friends. The ones who love these movies/books but may not necessarily think about God too much.

Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?

The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They’re a bit larger than we are.) They don’t start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That’s who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It’s very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don”t. But we’re pulled toward stories that speak to that.

Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?

Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

jill portrait webTell me something more about you.

I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I’ve spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I’ve done it on stage. But—I’m a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and love planning our next vacation as soon as we get home form the last one. In fact, my last book before this one was about taking your family on short term mission trips.

Oh, I will be looking for your book on taking your family on short term mission trips, for sure!

Readers, here’s a little more on Jill:

Jill’s love for hobbits and elves comes from her time as a literature  teacher and as a lifelong reader of great stories. She also loves an epic challenge and a chance for grace wherever they exist. Jill has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and is an ordained minister who has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor. She has published four books previously, as well as articles in national magazines such as FamilyFun, Discipleship Journal, and Today’s Christian Woman.

Jill enjoys speaking on a variety of topics and has been very active on the MOPS circuit, as well as in junior high and high school classes. She enjoys speaking for retreats for all ages.

With three daughters, three cats, and (thankfully!) only one husband, she keeps busy otherwise with community theater, gardening, reading, scrapbooking, and traveling. Jill loves oceans, cats, chocolate, teenagers, her family, the Cubs, and God, not necessarily in that order.

Jill Richardson contact info:

jillmarierichardson.com

https://www.facebook.com/jillwrites                                

http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/JillMarieRichar

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World–Amazon buy link. Only $3.00 for the kindle.

Hobbits, Elves, and Dragons More Real Than You Believe 

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, Author of The Philosophy of Tolkien has said this about Jill’s book:

“Jill Richardson has done a doubly difficult deed. She has written a book about the Bible and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and she has written a book that both adults and teenagers will enjoy. Her trick is that this is a book that successfully uses Tolkien to understand the Bible instead of a book that unsuccessfully uses the Bible to understand Tolkien.

For another thing, it’s a book for teenagers that most adults will also enjoy, understand, and profit from instead of a book for adults that most teenagers will enjoy, understand, and profit from (which is much more difficult). And it works. It’s both sprightly and profound, funny and serious, full of loving sarcasm and realistic moral truth.”

Some more thoughts from others: 

Author Jill Richardson may well have been born in the Shire, so well does she know the inhabitants of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. But the truths in this book are anything but fantasy. They strike close to the heart where we all have the God-given desire for valorous deeds and new worlds to explore.

Wayne Thomas Batson
, Bestselling Author of The Door Within Trilogy,
The Dark Sea Annals, and GHOST

And now for the prizes!

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and enter the Rafflecopter (toward the bottom of the page). And be sure and pick up your Kindle version of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World at Amazon.

Book Launch

Michelle Evans Spirals in with Spiraling Out of Control and Raffle for $200 Amazon Card

Mich2 - CopyWelcome, Michelle Evans, to the Scribes!

Thank you! It is such an honour to be here today on Katy Lee’s blog. Our booksellers and publishers today want to be clear on knowing where a novel will fit on the shelf before they will sign a new author. After a whole lot of feedback from both Christian and secular professionals, I discovered my novel was on the fence. It didn’t fit well on the general market shelf and it isn’t a Christian fiction book.

I found myself at a position of decision time. Should I rewrite my novel to be more Christian or more secular? Or was it time to go Indie and publish the story as it was, the way I believed God wanted it to be told – real, raw and relevant.

Katy asked me where I blurred the edges… in Spiraling Out of Control (through my Spiralling Out of Control PREVIEWChristian world-view) you will find under-age consensual sex, under-age drinking, nightclubbing and drugs. The main character Stephanie is not a Christian and does not choose to change her ways in this novel. Though her best friend, Tabbie, does have an encounter with God and regularly brings up spiritual ideals in conversations – this frustrates Stephanie no end.

Though I haven’t shown the graphic detail, it is a pretty heavy read.

For these reasons, I am marketing Spiralling Out of Control to the general public 16+ and the Christian market 17+ audience .

Thank you for making those marketing guidelines clear. Surprises are fun, but in this case, readers need to be informed. Readers, Michelle is offering her book for 99 cents from 12/1/13-12/16/13 as part of the John 3:16 Book Launch. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Here’s a little more about Michelle, and be sure to continue on to learn about the raffle for a $200 Amazon gift card.

Michelle is married to an awesome man. She spends most of her days educating, socialising and sporting their four children and her nights writing.

She lives on the Gold Coast of Australia and believes you can find healing and hope when you read someone else’s story, fiction or truth. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.     http://michelledennisevans.com

Spiraling Out of Control:

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal … Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.

Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.

Book LaunchFor a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing at: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books

Emma Right, Inspirational YA/Middle Grade Author Visits

 

 

Today, the Scribes invite Young Adult/Middle Grade Author, Emma Right to tell us aperf6.000x9.000.indd little about her latest inspirational adventure fantasy release, (that is on sale for 99 cents this week only) Keeper of Reign! And below you will see a place to enter to win  a Kindle!

 

But first I sat down with Emma to ask her a few Scribe’s questions to help us to get to know her and to see how she makes her writing a success.

 

So please welcome Emma Right!

 

Emma Tcheau headshotEmma, how do you battle the doubt monster?

 

The problem with life is that the Doubt Monster seeps into every aspect of our lives, right? He’s that negative voice that always tells us all to look at the cup half empty, to focus on the storm, and never on Jesus. And there is my sword. The Lord of my life, Jesus Christ. If I veer my eyes even a tiny fraction away from HIM and at the things I do, I will be defeated even before I start. HE who can turn water into wine, and bring the dead back to life can breathe life into my characters, even on my worse days. And that’s how I overcome all the Doubt Monsters, and there are too many of them around. So, I try to not focus on them, and remember I write for Jesus, I breathe for Jesus, and my stories are for HIM. He will overcome for me. He and His Word–just like my character Jules Blaze who had to realize that he had to go back to the Books to find answers to life, and that he’d been equipped all along to overcome his Enemy–see final chapters of Keeper of Reign 1. 

Well said! I know if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I will persevere. Can you tell us if you have a story you haven’t you told yet?  What is holding you back?

The only thing keeping me back is the lack of time. I have to remind myself that I am a mother first, before I am an author. That’s a hard pill to swallow since I feel I have also been called to write–something I had been resisting for one reason or another all these years. 

Understandable. Being a wife/mother has to come first. I’m glad you’re your family has supported you to allow you to have some time to write.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d continue to still tell stories verbally. And then, there’s reading, which I absolutely love to do.

Wonderful! So they say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I actually have a 300 page manuscript in my drawer/computer. It’s called “No Accident” and is a YA/MG Christian paranormal mystery about a girl who’d moved into a new neighborhood and finds the house revealing things to her about herself. One of these days I’ll find the time to edit it and publish it. Maybe when I am done with Keeper of Reign Book 2 and the new YA psychological thriller series, called “Dead Dreams” I am working on right now.

Look forward to them all! Now, Emma, tell us how do you come up with your shtick?

I try to incorporate some bible nuggets into my stories. They may not be big or obvious facts or revelations, since I am also trying to reach a non-believing reader, or one semi-luke warm Christian, through my books, but I hope to add something in the story that would “shtick” to the reader–something about the Bible or Jesus. Some not-well-known detail, or peculiarity that I hope will nudge the reader into thinking a bit more about the Bible and his/her salvation.

Tell us about the making of your story!

Look about and see something out of place. And ask “What if…” I give you an example…your husband comes home and he seems to be different…how do you really know he’s you husband? ….what if…fill in the blanks here.

Okay, that’s a little freaky. Let’s move on….What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

Wasting time trying to learn to write to get a literary agent. It’s a lesson in courtship, and very tedious. And, I took six months off from writing novels to learn how to sell myself, or rather my novel, to agents. If there was one thing I couldn’t do to save myself, it was to sell anything. So after a while, and bored stiff, I gave up and said, “forget agents, forget publishing houses, I can do this because I have Christ and I am willing to learn.” If I have any time at all to dedicate to my writing I’d rather learn how to craft a better story or read a novel that would help my stories be more exciting and so forth. Besides, in this day and age, an author can hire editors, a designer, and even a book distributor, so the need to find an agent and a traditional publisher isn’t so important like it was ten years ago.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

I absolutely detest the word “I”. Truly, why, may I ask, is “I” capitalized? It is not only troublesome to type–since we always have to capitalize that silly word, and hence waste time–I just feel that capitalizing it just make “I” look so puffed up and makes us focus on, guess who? “I,” of course.

Never thought about it that way! We don’t capitalize “you”. LOL!

What is your junk food of choice?

Cheese burgers, dripping with juice and stuffed with freshly cut onions.

MMMM…What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Rappelling down the bell-shaped 180-foot Moaning Cave–my teenage son’s idea.

Yikes! Not for me, either.  Tell us your guilty pleasure?

Eating toast that has been slathered with butter, then topped with creamy, smooth Nutella. And a cup of latte to go with it.

Mmmmmm…while I imagine that, Readers, enjoy the Keeper of Reign Book1 trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwDNCsXsthIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQKjBMLnnzE AND REMEMBER Keeper of Reign Book 1 is now 99c till Aug 16  at : http://www.amzn.to/12QkOOU

……………

Kindle Raffle!!

Keeper of reign Book1 is being showcased by the John 3:16 Marketing Network as part of their August Book Launch Event. Be sure to visit  http://bit.ly/Christian_Books for a chance to win a Kindle, a $25 gift card and a $10 Starbucks card, as well as purchase Children of Dreams.

 

Emma Right is a happy wife and Christian homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Emma worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Visit Emma Right at her home site and sign for her blog feed and newsletter @ http://www.emmaright.com and blog for tips and ideas about books, homeschooling, bible devotions, and author helps from self-publishing to book marketing. Follow Emma Right on facebook.com/emma.right.author and “like” her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/keeperofreign for the latest events. Follow Google Plus emmarightbooks, and Twitter @emmbeliever. She’d love to hear from her readers.

A Visit with Shannon Vannatter

Please welcome Shannon Vannatter to the Scribes! We’re so happy to have you, Shannon, and excited to hear all about Rodeo Regrets, your Heartsong Presents book release.

Readers, Shannon will be here on Monday to reply to your questions and comments. SheShannon Taylor Vannatter Headshot - red is excited to interact with you, so be sure to say hi! And she’s giving away a copy to one lucky commentor. Winner announced next Sunday.

But first, Shannon answered a few questions the Scribes had for her to help you get to know her better.

The first was how she battles the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

So tells us, Shannon, what do you do?

When that happens, I find a writers meeting to go to. Being around other writers always gets me going.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

Not really. When I first started writing, I dabbled with inspirational romantic suspense and realized I really stunk at it. There was very little suspense and I kept focusing on the romance. Plus I didn’t want to learn about guns and dead bodies. Finally, at a writers conference I heard an editor say that if you’re not sure what genre you want to write, pay attention to what you read. The genre you enjoy reading is probably what you should write.

It was an ah hah moment for me. Occasionally I read romantic suspense, but I have to be in the right mood because it keys me up. Occasionally, I read women’s fiction, but I’m always leery because I want a happily-ever-after. I don’t enjoy historicals or Amish. My consistent favorite read is romance. And I’ve given up on reading secular. I read to relax and I don’t want to be cussed at or unholy images planted in my head.

All that said, I can’t imagine writing anything other than inspirational contemporary romance.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell? What is holding you back?

This French guy has been in my head for several years. I haven’t had time to deal with him because of deadlines for contracted books. A good problem to have. But I plan to carve out some time and write his story later this year.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

When I learned that the Heartsong Presents line was being discontinued. And two of my books would die in the process.

And then Harlequin bought the line. My two books released and I got to continue the series with three more books.

Wa-hoo! So happy for you!

So, what would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I guess I’d just be a stay at home mom. And when my son gets grown, I’d go back to some office job like I had before.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Mine’s actually complete. And it’s the first book I ever wrote. It was a good story, but I had no idea how the mechanics of writing worked. It was about a girl with a stalker and the private detective who became her bodyguard. I actually completely rewrote it a few months ago. It’s now a rodeo queen with a stalker and the Texas Ranger she dated back in high school. It’s releasing in November. I don’t believe in leaving books in a drawer. All of my first efforts have been published—after lots of learning and revision—except for two and I haven’t had time to rework them yet. But I plan to.

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories?

Things I see or experience often go in my books. This whole rodeo series started because my dad announced at a very small town rodeo when I was a teenager and I worked in the concession stand. Years later, I saw a cowboy wearing his wranglers, boots and hat holding hands with a girl in a pin-striped suit at the Arkansas State Fair. I wondered how they met and what they had in common. That became the basis for book one of this series.

How do you come up with your shtick?  (By shtick I mean that thing that identifies the story as belonging to you)

There’s always a dark-haired guy with green eyes. My husband has that coloring and that’s what I’m attracted to. So I can’t write a blond hero. My characters live in real small towns. They usually come with a southern drawl, use southernisms, and they all say y’all and drink sweet tea.

How did your current release come about?

Once Harlequin bought the line, my agent contacted an editor about me. The editor had just read book two in my series and wanted to know if I had anything similar to submit. I’d given all my characters in the series a happily ever after since it was only supposed to be a three book series with the previous publisher.

Except for Natalie. She was the rodeo slut who hit on every hero I created, got pregnant, gave her baby up, and skipped town two books ago. I figured out a way to redeem her, which went back to what happened to her to make her the person she was. I gave her a sister and a cousin for two more books. The editor liked the concept and another three books were born.

What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

It took me three tries to end up with the right agent.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

Padding. There for a while, it seemed like all the heroines were taking off their shoes and padding across the room.

What is your junk food of choice?

Milk chocolate, caramel, and nuts together in the form of a Snickers Bar or Turtles.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Skip study hall. I almost got caught and I never did it again. I’m pretty tame.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Sappy Hallmark movies. They’re nice, clean movies, but they’re a guilty pleasure because I should be writing, or cleaning, or something useful.

Oh, Shannon, don’t worry about those sappy movies. Consider it inspiration for your own stories. They get your mind set on the right track!

Thank you so much for sharing. I especailly appreciate the three agent misstep. Proof that you don’t want to take the first agent that comes along. Make sure you are a good fit.

Thank you, Shannon for being here! Readers be sure to check out Rodeo Regrets and get connected with Shannon too!

Rodeo Regrets coverRodeo Regrets:

NATALIE WENTWORTH’S PAST IS ABOUT TO CATCH UP WITH HER

Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.

Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie’s forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Regrets-Heartsong-Presents-Shannon-Vannatter/dp/0373486669/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373158598&sr=8-1&keywords=rodeo+regrets

http://shannonvannatter.com/

The Making of a Book Cover by Katy Lee

I received a sneak peek of my book cover for my October release, WARNING SIGNS, a few weeks ago. I tried to share the link, but it stopped working, so please forgive me and allow me another chance to show you my new cover.

Here it is!

Warning Signs Cover

It was so neat to see the end result after working with Harlequin’s art department back in December, especially since I had to repeat the process because I failed to do it correctly the first time. Oops! Now that I know what they want, my next books will hopefully be easier.

I write for their Love Inspired Suspense line, and if you’ve ever taken notice of this line, you will see the ominous, nail-biting mood each title expresses. They really are all about the suspense, which is what I messed up on in my first run-through.

I was making it all about the romance, and not about the intrigue.

The key to making the art department happy was to provide three scenes that set the tone and the premise of the book. I had to provide one scene that included my characters, but the other two scenes couldn’t have any people in them. But that does not mean there wasn’t a “character” in the picture.

For you writers out there, I’m sure you understand what I mean when I say that your setting is a character of your story. Well, that setting comes through on your book cover.

The scenes I provided depicted a small New England Island and fishing community where danger seeps in, lurking, and ultimately rocks the town upside down.

Do you think the cover captures this?

Warning Signs Cover

The mood on the cover needs to reach out to a prospective buyer perusing the shelves for their next book. It needs to say, “Something’s not quite right in this picture. What is it?” and it needs to make them pick it up to find out what this book is about.

Now, when they pick up WARNING SIGNS, they will read the back cover. And this is what it says:

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT

When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town’s number one suspect—the high school’s new principal—doesn’t fit the profile.

Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen’s help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

The Unlocked Secret: Even the though WARNING SIGNS won’t be released until October, it is up for preorder on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and ChristianBook.com now at discounted rates! If you plan on purchasing it, and you like a deal, take advantage of the lower preorder prices now!

And let me know what you think, and if you’re a writer, please share your pointers on making an eye-catching book cover with us!