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Tell us . . .
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 had a creative writing class in the third grade. I loved it and excelled at it. But I never thought of growing up to be a writer. In my teens, we moved to a rural area and left my friends behind. I was lonely and bored, so I created a story in my head. I’d change scenes and add complications. I never realized it was a book until I was in my thirties. It was the first book I ever wrote, but I had no idea what I was doing and got fifty-one rejections. Eventually, I completely rewrote it and it became my 8th published title.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write contemporary inspirational romance. It’s romance happening in the present time with characters who are Christians or will be by the end of the book. My first series was set in rural Arkansas. My current series is set at the Fort Worth Stockyards and at least one character in each book is connected with the rodeo. Each book is stand alone, but there are continuing threads throughout the series.
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?
During the school year, I write from 8:00 – 1:30. During school breaks, I write from 10:00 pm to 2:00 am. When my son is out of school, I focus on him and when my family is home, we spend time together. I don’t really do a daily word count, but I try to at least write 5,000 words a week. On a good week with no distractions, I can write 10,000 words.
I usually allow myself two months to write my first draft, then I let it rest for a month before I start revising. I had deadlines every four months there for a while and it was doable. But my brain was exhausted and it was hard to turn in a book and then dive right into the next one. My current contract has a deadline every five months. It works great. I’ve got two months for the first draft, a month to let it rest, a month to revise, and a month to let my brain rest. And it gives me time to do revisions for my editor on books already turned in.
What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
Rodeo Family’s message is pretty much, let go and let God. The heroine, Tori, isn’t a Christian in the beginning, so readers get to experience her journey to Christ. She’s had a rough life with an abusive parent, a suicide that rocked her world during her teens, and an abusive boyfriend. Tori’s been a party girl, wild child, and finally finds herself on the bottom where the only place to look is up.
The theme in all of my is: Love doesn’t make the world go round, God does.
Once they get that straight and get right with God, the romance happens.
You recently had another book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
Rodeo Song was book 7 in my Texas rodeo series. It’s about high school sweethearts reunited. He followed his dream of becoming a singing star and left her behind. His dream didn’t quite pan out—he ended up singing secular instead of Christian and got into alcohol and women. She stayed in their hometown, stuck to her principles and opened a interior decorating store.
They’re reunited when her unsaved employee promises to go to church if the heroine will give her a ride to his concert. At the concert, he pulls the heroine on stage and sings a love song to her. My current release, Rodeo Family is the unsaved employee, Tori’s story.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
I get ideas from everywhere. Things I see, read, hear. My entire rodeo series came from seeing a cowboy to the bone wearing Wranglers, Stetson, and boots holding hands with a girl dressed in a pin-striped business suit and suede boots. I wondered how they met and what they had in common. The series was only supposed to be three books, but I kept writing interesting side characters who deserved their own book.
For names, I have a baby name book I use along with internet sites. I give my heroes and heroines more unique names and my insignificant side characters common names. Sometimes, when I get stuck on a name, I describe the character on Facebook and ask friends and readers for suggestions. I write names I like or unique names in it down in my idea book – a large journal I’ve had for years. It has tons of notes, scenes, ideas, and names in it.
I put some of me in each character. My values and beliefs goes into all of them. If they don’t believe like me at the beginning of the book, they will by the end.
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? Who’s inspired you the most?
Before I got published, I wanted to give up several times. But I couldn’t seem to stop. I’m most stressed when I have to multi-task, which I do often. It stresses me when I have a deadline for one book, revisions from my editor with a deadline on another book, and I’m promoting another. Summer deadlines stress me because I try to focus on my family in the summer and I’m not as productive.
I’ve had lots of discouragement from a long ago Print on Demand publisher publishing my book without my knowledge, to a long ago agent who lost a book deal for me, to my publisher pulling my line. But every time something discouraging happens, God opens a new door. I’ve learned just to wait and see what He does next.
Two of my favorite authors – Denise Hunter and Lenora Worth. When I was at my first national American Christian Fiction Writers conference and didn’t know a soul, Lenora asked if she could sit by me. My jaw hit the floor. She’s always remembered my name, congratulated me when I won my first unpubbed award, and gives me a hug when she sees me. And I love her books.
I’ve only met Denise once, but her books inspire me. I want to be her when I grow up. An odd thing, two of her recent titles have similar issues to what Tori goes through in Rodeo Family. I wrote the book before either of her books released and was amazed at the coincidence.
Would you explain how you “chose” (or was chosen by) a publisher? Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
I pitched a book at American Christian Fiction Writers in 2008 to JoAnne Simmons. It was the end of the last day of the conference. She’d had countless appointments and heard countless pitches. Her eyes glazed over when I told her my story about a preacher and florist. Until I said, it’s set in Romance, Arkansas where people send their wedding invitation and Valentine cards to be mailed and people get married there. Her eyes lit up and she said, That sounds like a Heartsong.
There’s no relaxing in publishing. Things constantly change. Lines are dropped, publishing houses are bought, or shut their doors. Maybe when authors hit the best seller list, they can relax.
Give me five likes and five dislikes of yours.
I hate cooking. It frustrates me.
I hate that low morals and trashy lifestyles are considered the norm.
I hate that pets die.
I hate spiders.
I hate summer. It makes me want to hibernate under the air conditioning.
I love spending time with my family.
I love church.
I love shoes.
I love gift cards. I’m very frugal, so I love spending someone else’s money.
I love spring and fall when it’s not too cold and not too hot, when you don’t have to run the heat or air and outside is pleasant.
Do you have hobbies, special interests?
I’m crafty and I sew home decor. I’ve made all of the bedspreads in our house and most of the curtains, toppers, and valances.
Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.
I love going to Texas. My husband has family there and we go every few years. I’m really not much on going to some foreign country or going somewhere just to be going. I like to travel to see family.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
Get your copy of Rodeo Family:
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 and once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. 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.
She has ten published titles and is contracted for five more. Her books are available at
Learn more about Shannon and her books at
http://shannonvannatter.com and check out her real life romance blog at
Connect with her on:
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and
Back Cover Blurb:
TORI EATON IS READY TO START OVER
She's beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori's surprised at the helping hand the church's new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.
Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she's built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he's exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?
Thanks for joining us today, Shannon!
Blessings, readers! Don't forget to check out her links, comment and leave your email addy for a chance to win her book!