A ReVisit with Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Greetings to you all! Today Author Shannon Taylor Vannatter is giving away a free copy ofRodeo Queen her book Rodeo Queen! Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. But first sit back and get to know Shannon better.

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

Tell Us, Shannon, How do you battle 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.

ShannonWhen 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.

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 only 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. Or even better—a Snickers Ice Cream Bar. Yum!

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

Skipped 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.


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?

Shannon’s books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/. Connect with her on Facebook: facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor

22 thoughts on “A ReVisit with Shannon Taylor Vannatter”

  1. Welcome, Shannon. I’ve only written stand alone novels, but series seems to be the way to go these days. Any tips on how you keep continuity for each book in a series? Do you keep a series bible? How do you structure it? I’m working on book three in a trilogy and having to do a lot of backtracking through the first two books to find descriptions of characters and details that I didn’t think were important enough to write into my series bible at the time. It’s a bit of a pain:-)

    Any suggestions for next time?

    1. Hi PJ,
      Great question. Usually, when I start a book, I always have two unmarried friends for the heroine. As I write the first book, I don’t worry too much about timeline. I’ll put some description at the beginning and at the end. After I finish, I go back and work on the timeline. I hand write the description of each scene on paper, then start adding time markers and season description.
      At the same time, I make notes at the end of my timeline on character descriptions, how old children are at the beginning and end of the book and how much time the book covered. Those notes go into helping me write the next book.
      My Texas rodeo series was supposed to only be three books. But when I got the chance to continue it, I had one single, dangling character left. She became book four and I gave her a sister and a cousin to carry on for three more books. Then when I finished that series, I realized I’d created other characters who could have their own stories. I haven’t got the go ahead for three more books yet, but I’m hopeful.
      I heard an author who wrote 9 books in a series speak once. With each new book, she still went into the POV of all her initial characters, so she had dozens of POV’s to keep up with. I don’t do that. Each book is hero and heroine POV focused.
      The characters in the books before might make appearances since they all live in the same town and all of them are friends or have connections. But when my characters from older books show up, they are side characters in the new story and I don’t get into their POV’s. It’s less confusing that way.
      Hope that helps.

  2. You’re right about word pet peeves. Of course at the moment I can’t think of any examples BUT often I’ll be reading different authors and they overuse some statements of adjectives over & over & over. I’m always thinking….create a new one!

    Ready to read this one now!

  3. Hi Shannon. I always like your answers in interviews. You and I have a lot of things we oth like, so I’m sure I’ve got many, many years on you. Can’t go wrong with Snicker bars and Turtles. And have you ever had a Snicker Blizzard from Dairy Queen. I feel sure you would love it since you like the Snicker ice cream bar. If you haven’t hope you will try it. I was also tame when I was in school. Never really wanted to do things that I wasn’t suppose to. My kids and friends have a hard time dealing with this, but it is true. I grew up in a very small also. Love small towns. I sure would love to win this Rodeo book. The one I have is lonely. 🙂 Please put my name. And thanks to Katy Lee for having you as a guest. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

    1. Hey Maxie,
      I’ll just say it – I’m 48. People think I’m younger than that since my only child is 11, but we just started late after 18 years of marriage. Talk about life-changing, but it was planned, so we were ready.
      I haven’t tried the Snicker Blizzard. All of our Dairy Queens around here closed several years back. Before that, I loved the Chocolate Covered Cherry Blizzard. Yep, I like that candy too, but not the kind with the cream. The kind that just has juice and the cherry inside. Yum!
      I’m definitely a rule-follower. And my family has a hard time with that too. They say I have no gray area. Everything is black or white – right or wrong.

  4. Would love to read this story! I’m seeing it make the rounds and it sounds fun! Thanks for the giveaway, and best wishes, Shannon, on the success of this release!

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