Wednesday, December 08, 2010

We're Happy to Have Shawna Williams Here!

Please note that not only is she giving away a copy of her e-book, Orphaned Hearts, she's also giving away a handmade set of Christmas tree ear rings! What to do? Leave a comment and your email address.

Now on to the interview . . .

How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

I received a clear call. I had never intended to be a writer until about eight years ago, when I went to sleep one night and had a dream. The dream was a story, told in scenes, and I couldn't stop thinking about it for six months. I finally started writing it, at first just to satisfy my curiosity over how certain details of the story fit together. Over time though, I grew to love the characters, their story, and writing. My first two books, NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS are the story that evolved from that dream.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

I write Inspirational Historicals. My current books also fit into the romance category, but I don't intend for every book I write to be a romance. I like to think of myself as a character writer because that's always the driving force behind my stories, even if romance is involved. I prefer 20th century historical settings, and thus far I have a story set in the 1930s, one set in the 1940s, and one set in the 1950s. I'm working a new one which is set in the early 60s, but I'd also like to go backwards and write a story that takes place in the 20s.

I've always been a big science fiction fan, so strange as this may sound, one day I hope to write some of that, too.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

Once I have the story's theme nailed down, and a general idea of the plot, I'm pretty fast – if I can carve out chunks of time. I need several hours and absolute quiet to get in the zone and hit my stride, so I have to wait until everyone is asleep. I usually try to work on a scene or two per night, depending on the length. When I'm writing I tend to not get much sleep.

It took me six months to write NO OTHER (this was the rewrite from the original version. I always had a good general sense of this story. It expanded quite a bit during the rewrite).

I worked on IN ALL THINGS for almost nine months, but the first five I kept getting 2/3rd of the way through and couldn't see how to bring it all into focus. I finally realized that I'd been trying to hold onto some things that didn't really serve a purpose. Four months before it was due I started over, and this time it poured out of me. It's almost 104,000 words!
Orphaned Hearts had been a short story I had written a year earlier. I had been pondering ideas for it for quite some time before I actually sat down and concentrated on turning it into a novel. It's only 42,000 words, so it's really more like a novella. I kept about 7,500 words from the original story, and added another 35,000. This only took me four weeks, but that's because I knew this story well in my heart.

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

Orphaned Heart is my latest release. It's a wonderful little story set in Northwestern Arkansas, during 1932.

The story is about a minister, David Langley, and his search for a home for Caleb, an orphaned child with a missing arm. David is especially concerned with Caleb's situation because David knows that Caleb's disability will affect how people see him. David, who also grew up orphaned, was severely burned in the fire that killed his family. As an adult he is able to hide these scars beneath his clothes, but he always felt that his disfigurement was the reason he was never taken in by a family when he was a child. For these same reasons, he believes he'll never have one of his own as a man. So, in a way, finding a home for Caleb proves there's still hope for him.

Sadie, the town spinster, has been in love with David for years, but she doesn't think he can see past her label. Circumstances bring Caleb into her home on a temporary basis and her love for the boy blossoms, healing his pain and hers. But things become desperate when they learn of danger at the orphanage and that Caleb must soon return. David and Sadie team up, both working to find a permanent, loving home where Caleb will be safe, but while searching they discover a family instead.

Orphaned Hearts can be purchased at Amazon Kindle, B&N Nookbooks, Christianbooks.com, iBookstore, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks and directly from the publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing.

What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

That true love sees inner beauty, and it has the power to conquer all. Sometimes the only thing getting in the way of it is ourself.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?

My path was a little strange because I wrote off and on for five years before ever deciding to seek publication. Also, though I'd been a Christian for many years, and read a lot of Christian non-fiction, I didn't read Christian fiction. And yet, I'd written a Christian fiction book.

My lowest point of discouragement came when I decided to get serious about seeking publication. I knew I had a lot to learn, so I bought nearly every book I could find about self editing and getting published in the Christian fiction market. I also bought a whole bunch of Christian fiction novels, namely WWII historicals since that's what my first book, NO OTHER, was. My thinking was that these books would be similar to mine and I'd be learning about my market, so I was dismayed to find that the stories and characters weren't like my story at all.

NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS are atypical for Christian fiction, I think. I don't want to say edgy, because there's no physical description that could be considered pushing boundaries, but the subject matter is a bit harsher than what you find in most Christian fiction.

While reading these other novels -- which were good, just different from mine -- I was also reading a book about getting published, and I came across a chapter for new authors. It flat out stated that if you were trying to get your first book published, and it included certain topics, you should put it away and write another book. Maybe, someday if you made it, a publisher would be willing to publish it. This bothered me tremendously. First, I didn't have another book. Second, even if I wrote another book it was likely to include similar material because my heart was set on writing about the journey we take when we learn to accept God's Grace, and the beauty He can create through it. I felt like that's what He'd called me write about, and if I ignored that and instead wrote something solely for the goal of being published, then I was putting my wishes before His and not using my talents to His glory. But it was greatly discouraging to me, at the time, to think that there was no place in the Christian fiction market for the types of stories I felt led to write. I later came across several authors that showed me there was plenty of room.

Who’s inspired you the most?

The author that has inspired me the most is Francine Rivers. Her love for God and compassion for others shows through her writing in the most genuine way. She has an amazing gift. Authors like her prove that Christian fiction can be a powerful ministry.

Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

Because my first book didn't fit very neatly into the genre, and I was new, I always thought a small press was my best option. An author I respect just had a book published by Desert Breeze. They were accepting submissions, and specifically looking for inspirationals in a 20th century historical setting. So, I submitted.

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?

Sure. I love Christmas, snow and dogs!

I like old houses and old cars. I enjoy hiking. I like reading about ancient history, and history circa 1900 - 1960 (especially the Depression era, WWII history, and the old movie/big studio era) I also think geology is immensely interesting. I make jewelry. I like it, too!

I dislike scary movies, reality shows with attention seeking drama, liver, spiders and extreme heat and humidity.

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

http://shawnakwilliams.com/

There's a link to my blog from my webpage.

My first two books, NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS, are stories that contain a lot of reality. Because they had been a part of me for so long, I never thought any other story could be as special. But Orphaned Hearts proved that to be untrue. When the idea for this story first came to me, my intent was to write a short story. The first draft was indeed just that. After completing it though, I found myself dwelling on the characters, feeling like they had more to say. They did. Orphaned Hearts isn't complex or angst-filled in the way NO OTHER and IN ALL THINGS are. It's a simple, family-friendly story, that easily fits the mold of something you'd find on the Hallmark movie channel; but it has a beauty to it that runs deep, and a message that rings true. I find myself as endeared to it as my other stories, just in a different way. This is my sweet baby, and I hope you will enjoy it.


What fun to have this writer here. Don't forget your comment and email address, readers!

Blessings!

25 comments:

Andrea Schultz said...

Interesting interview; love Shawna & her written work & jewelry work!

Blessings & Merry Christmas -

Andrea
andrealschultz at gmail dot com

Ponderings by Andrea blog
http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com

CarlybirdK said...

I really enjoyed this interview. Orphaned Hearts sounds like a very good book. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thank you.
carlyberd[at]yahoo[dot]com

Kathryn Page Camp said...

I understand the dilemna between writing for publication and writing what's on your heart. On the one hand, writing is my business, but on the other, if God puts it on my heart, how can I say "no"? (Well, I could, but I usually don't.)

Teresa Slack said...

Thanks Carole for another great interview. I think I read some of the same writing books. Seems like editors want us to write inside a tidy little box to get a publishing contract. Those rules are changing, but very slowly.

♥emma stormy♥ said...

What a great give-a-way!!

Emma
emmastormy08@gmail.com

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a good story.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Carmen7351 said...

I just started with No Other a day ago and it is great! Looking forward to Orphaned Hearts.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Shawna Williams said...

Hi Carole! Thank you for hosting me. Thanks guys for the comments! God bless.

Molly said...

Awesome interview! I love Shawna's work!

Thanks for the entry into the giveaway.

Mollydedwards AT yahoo DOT com

Patsy said...

This sounds great. Count me in on the giveaway.
plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

jacque said...

Interesting how the story came in bits and pieces and to string them together! Thx for a nice interview!

twinmomx5 at gmail dot com

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Fantastic interview! WOuld love to win!!

ritagarcia@roadrunner.com

Judylynn said...

Looks like a great book! Please enter me.

seizethebookblog(at)gmail(dot)com

karenk said...

a great interview...thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

K said...

this book sounds really intriguing!! I really want to read it now!! :)
Please enter me!
Kim
lonebanana(at)msn(dot)com

Charlotte Kay said...

I am glad to be able to possibly win another of Shawna's books!
I won the first two through a giveaway; Shawna, if you are reading this, I haven't received them yet!

Please, please, please enter me:)
Charlotte
chakasa58 at gmail dot com

Carman said...

Please enter me! I love Shawna's writing and would enjoy reading this book when I get free time reading! :D

booklovercb[at]yahoo[dot]com

Jo said...

Great interview, Shawna and your book sounds terriic. Please enter me in the drawing.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Jolee said...

Beautiful sounding book AND earrings. Thanks!! joleehamlin [at] comcast [dot] net

apple blossom said...

those earrings look so nice. Would love to win. thanks for the interview.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Kelly Massman said...

Sounds like a great book! Please enter me:

thanks!
kmassmanATgmailDOTcom

Nia for Jesus said...

I'd love to read this book,please enter me in this giveaway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cathy W said...

Sounds like one I'd enjoy reading.
Thanks.
cjwallace43 at gmail dot com

Aleetha said...

lovely cover. I love it

aleetha.ally at gmail dot com

LaTawnia said...

What a great story! Orphaned Heart sounds like a winner for Shawna! And Shawna has become one of my favorite authors. I really like her work.

Please enter me in the giveaway

LaTawnia
latawniakintz at gmail dot com

carman sent me!