Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ever Feel Like You're Going in Circles? Talk to Shannon Taylor Vannatter

     Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, a dragonfish, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.
     Her series with Heartsong Presents launched in May with White Roses. White Doves follows in October, and White Pearls in January. Each book ships to a 10,000 member bookclub, then to stores six months later. All three books are set in Romance and Rose Bud, Arkansas. Brides and lovebirds take advantage of the re-mailing program to have wedding invitations and Valentines cards mailed from Romance with a unique postmark. Romance also hosts several annual weddings with Valentine’s Day the most popular date.

SKC: Nice to have you here, Shannon. Before you tell us more about your work, how would you say your upbringing relates to your writing?

Shannon My upbringing was very solid with an intact nuclear family. This type of character is the easiest for me to write. Characters from dysfunctional backgrounds are harder, since thankfully I have no experience. However, characters with lots of emotional baggage are fun because they’re very conflicted.

SKC: How do you get your brain going in the creative mode and what are some things you suggest to keep it there?

Shannon Before I start a book, I work out the GMC and the spiritual issues for each character. I have a file of pictures I’ve clipped from magazines and catalogs. I look through them all and find a photo for each character. I paste all the pictures on a piece of paper and hang it next to my computer. This gets me started. After I begin, I re-read the last two or three scenes of what I wrote the day before to get me back in the story. I don’t do much editing until I finish the first draft.

SKC: Just working out your characters' spiritual issues can be good for any writer's soul! What else inspires you each day?

Shannon: Deadlines and knowing that readers will actually read my books and hopefully my stories or characters will touch hearts.

SKC: When did you know writing books would become the passion of your heart and what message do you filter in your stories, if any?

Shannon: When I first started writing, I thought I’d just write a book and it would get published. After over a hundred rejections on two books, I decided to quit. But I couldn’t. The characters and their stories wouldn’t leave me alone.

Two years into writing, I was seven months pregnant and suffering from pre-eclampsia. The doctor put me on bed rest. I had to lie on my left side to keep my blood pressure down and prop my feet above my heart to keep the swelling in my legs down. While in this pretzel position, I edited a manuscript. Because of all the swelling, I also had carpal tunnel in both wrists. I’d hold the manuscript up to read and make notes with my red pen until my wrists went numb, then put it down until the feeling came back, then give it another go. That’s when I knew, nothing would stop me.

The message that love doesn’t conquer all, God does, is woven into each story.

SKC: Sounds like your own love for writing helped you to conquer, Shannon.What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book so far?

Shannon: Creating characters the reader wants to root for. It doesn’t matter how great the plot or spiritual thread is, if the reader doesn’t care about your characters.

SKC: I'm learning that. How do you schedule your daily writing time so that it does not interfere with your God time and quality time with family?

Shannon: During the school year, I write while my husband is at work and my son is in school. Once my son gets home, the computer goes off. During the summer, I write after everyone is in bed. Since there’s a spiritual thread in each book, the Bible is often a research tool, which gives me God time while I work. Evenings and weekends are God and family time.

SKC: I used to be an evening person like you. Now, I start early. I think I'm getting old. What do you believe is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Shannon: Consistency in the story. Since the book is written over a period of months, it’s hard to keep everything aligned.

SKC: A good focus, Shannon. Consistency. (In so many things)  After you finish your present projects what plans do you have?

Shannon: I just turned in book 3 in my first series. After a short break, I’m planning to pitch another series and I’m doing research on a third.

SKC: You sound very busy. Okay. As you know, our readers here at A Pen for Your Thoughts usually get excited about the reflection question an author has to ask. What would you like to ask our readers and writers in the next few days, Shannon, and what book will you be donating this week?

Shannon: I’m living the dream of my heart and give all credit to God. What prayer has God answered for you lately? I’m donating a copy of my debut novel, White Roses.

SKC: Wonderful question. Thanks. Where else can we find you and your books on the web?

Shannon: Order White Roses at Learn more at My new blog, The Inkslinger, features true love stories, inspirational author’s real-life romances, insight into the love lives of their fictional characters, book excerpts, romantic destinations, and weekly book giveaways at

SDC: Thanks and thank you so much for being here at A Pen for Your Thoughts

Shannon: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed the interview and love interacting with readers.

We got the name drawn! Congratulations to Cara Putnam of Lafayette, Indiana. Blessings to you, Cara, and to all who participated.


  1. Loved the interview. What prayer has God answered for me lately? Wow! He answers so many. I think it would be when He made me feel better so quickly after being sick all day. sometimes when I get sick it lasts forever and I can't write. I write poems. Anyway, God touched me and I was blessed.
    I would love to be included for this drawing. Thanks
    Betty Fimple
    Windsor, CA

  2. Hi Betty,

    Thanks for sharing your blessing. God is good!

  3. Congrats, Shannon! What a gorgeous cover, too!

  4. Thanks Cara. I'm thrilled with the cover.

  5. I can relate to so much of what Shannon shared. I too, am a Pastors wife (although my husband is currently on sabbatical) and I have had to juggle church, home, either working full time as a teacher or homeschooling, with my passion for writing. May God bless your endeavors! Perseverance certainly is the key! I am happy to say that after many rejections as well, my debut novel "And the Beat Goes On' is in print and there are two more in production / review.

  6. Hi Shannon. Great interview. Arkansas is definitely the place for animal lovers. We own a zoo too. I'm in Mena. *waving* :)


  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. We have been praying about getting a trailer. And boy did God answer!!
    Please enter me in this giveaway. Thanks!


    When did you change your blog look? I really like it:)

  9. I can sure think of prayers I would LIKE God to answer. The hardest thing for me is waiting.
    I enjoyed what you and Shirley talked about in the the interview. It must be hard to juggle all the things you juggle.
    Please include me. Thanks.
    Janice Ian

  10. Hi Shannon, loved your interview. I have not read any of your books but have added you to my new authors list and your books to my wish list.
    I am suprised you have time to write with all your daily chores and animals to take care of. I can't wait to read White Roses. Thanks for stopping by to chat. I did not know there was a Romance Arkansas but it sounds like a wonderful place for all the romantics out there to visit.
    Thanks Shirley for inviting Shannon to your blog and introducing her to us.
    I am thankful every day for all the things God does for me. Just being healthy (almost) and able to take care of myself and help others is a true blessing.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  11. Hi Tracy,

    Congratulations! Welcome to the wild ride called published author. There are so many pastor's wives who write. I guess we need an outlet.

    Hi Shawna,

    Cool! I've actually been to Mena once. When my husband was a youth director, we brought our youth group to a Christian Rock festival there.

    Hi Charity,

    So glad God answered your prayer. He's so good to us!

    Hi Janice,

    I think God made me a writer to teach me patience. I've had to let a lot of things slide at church this last year in order to meet my deadlines. I stopped cleaning the church and felt really guilty about it, especially when we ended up having to pay someone to do it. But maybe that lady really needed to money, so it helped her out. Next week, we're having our first VBS. I'm deadline free and diving head first as the craft lady. We're making a paper mache mountain. I don't know to do paper mache. Should be fun.

    Hi Misskallie,

    I'm very honored to be on your list. Romance is a nice little town.
    A major highway bypassed it and the town threatened to die. The school closed down, but the post office and weddings have kept it alive.

  12. I love the cover of the book and would really love to read this book.


  13. Hi, Shannon, and great interview! Isn't Shirley wonderful? :-) I'd love a copy of White Roses! This novel looks, and sounds, wonderful! How has God answered prayer? Revelation. I truly feel, in the past few weeks, that he has begun to reveal His plan and will for me. After debuting at White Rose Publishing with my first inspirational romance, I've been contracted for its sequel, and am pitching a series! Exciting times, to be sure, but a time, also, when you must reach out in faith and trust. Blessings, Shannon, and Shirley, prayers are uplifted for you as well! Blessings, ladies! Marianne Evans

  14. a wonderful interview/posting :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  15. Hi Jo,

    I used a real church in Rose Bud as the model for the church in the book. I took fictional liberty and added more stained glass windows. If you have time, check out the slideshow on my website. There's a picture of the real church there. The cover artist did a great job.

    Hi Marianne,
    Shirley is wonderful. I've met so many great online writing friends in this journey. Everyone is so helpful and supportive.

    Awesome about your series! I'm so excited for you.

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the compliment. Shirley came up with the great questions.

  16. Shannon, congrats on the release of your debut novel!

    I felt for you as I read about the trouble in your pregnancy, but I admire your dedication to your writing. Was the book you were editing in midair White Roses? I do hope everything worked out well with your labor and delivery after that difficult pregnancy.

  17. Hi Keli,

    Actually, it was another book, still unpublished at the moment. I should have said that everything turned out fine. I carried to term and my health son is now eight. I quit while I was ahead, so he's an only child.

  18. Good spiritual blog.
    I’ve enjoyed looking over your blog. I came across it through another blog I follow. I am now a follower of yours as well. Feel free to look over my blog and perhaps become a follower as well.