Shirley: I love it when authors have a scripture verse to guide them through their writing days. If you were to use one, what would it be, and why? And how can you make that verse become a promise for your life?
Shawna: I love Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
It's the inspiration for the title of my second book, In All Things, and actually this verse encompassed the overall theme of both books, No Other and In All Things. But Orphaned Hearts also sprung from a similar foundation. That story was inspired by my grandparents, and their story is a testimony to the truth of this verse. A couple of story ideas I'm working on now also carry on with this message. This verse just gives me a great deal of peace.
Shirley: How long had you been writing before you got your first contract? And tell us how you dealt with your patience as you waited for that first phone call.
Shawna: I started writing almost nine years ago, but not with publication in mind. My intention wasn't even to be a writer. I just wanted to make sense of this weird dream I'd had. I thought it made a great story, but there were gaps, and I wanted to fit it all together. Basically I started writing to satisfy my own curiosity. Over time, though, I really began to love the story, the characters and the whole creative process, and I started wondering if it might be publishable. Then I got scared and put it away. I did the 'put away – pull back out – put away again' thing for several years. The last time I put it away I didn't see it for over a year because I had decided, again, that the story was only for me, and that I should be satisfied with that because it was an accomplishment just to have written it. Then one day I just felt like it was time to get serious with my efforts. Up to that point I hadn't really studied writing and I knew I needed to start there if I wanted to make the story publishable. From the time I became serious until the contract for No Other was offered was two years, but the entire writing journey before publication was around seven years total.
Shirley: When did you decide to write strictly inspirational, and why?
Shawna: I don't know that I ever really made a conscience choice. The moment I decided to write I knew that it would be inspirational. It's just who I am, and I don't think I can write a story without some kind of spiritual message. My thoughts always gravitate toward what God's purpose might be in pretty much everything and I can't turn it off. When I'm writing I think about my characters, what they'd learn from their experiences in the story and how it would affect them spiritually.
I do have several story ideas that could be pitched to the general market, but even in those I'm quite sure that there will be a spiritual message woven in.
Shirley: Tell us what gets you started on those first five pages of a brand new story. How about the last?
Shawna: The beginning is always so hard. I try to write out goals that I want to achieve, and then I just have to start. I revise the beginning more than any other part because my tendency is to try and cram too much history in at first. As the story progresses I find more natural ways to reveal things, so I'm able to go back and revise. Basically though, getting started is just a matter of rolling up my sleeves and getting after.
The last pages I love! This is the easiest part because at this point I know the story well, and how I want things to wrap up. The last pages are like a final sprint, and it feels great knowing that the story is out of you and into words!
Shirley: What is your best advice to other authors writing up a proposal and synopsis?
Shawna: Honestly, I'm a fairly new writer and don't feel like I have enough experience to offer any worthy advice on this topic. I should probably be asking for it. I'm still surprised I ever got anything accepted based on my proposals. I think it helped that I was able to include sample chapters with No Other. The story proposals I've submitted since it was contracted have gone to the same publisher and the EIC is familiar with my writing now, so that helps. I plan to pitch some stories at the conference in September, so I need to work on this. What kind of advice do you guys have? I need it!
Shirley: What do you do during the waiting period when editors are looking over your manuscripts?
Shawna: Once I've submitted I'm pretty good at not thinking too much about it and working on other stuff. What gets me nervous is when I see an email come in. Then I have to psych myself into clicking on it to read. I always wait until everyone is in bed because that's just my way. If the news is bad I'd rather be by myself for a little while.
Shirley: After you finish your present project, what plans do you have in the oven?
Shawna. I want to get something ready to pitch at conference. I have a several story ideas that I want to play with. I'm going to take a break from 20th Century historicals to try my hand at a contemporary suspense and eventually a scifi (though it's going to be awhile before I can grasp the full extent of the scfi. It's definitely going to be a series). I still plan to write historicals and have another in mind, too. I don't have an agent, so I'd like to use one of these to help me find one. I also have a couple of story ideas that are a good fit for Desert Breeze and plan to continue submitting to them as well.
Shirley: What would you like to ask this week about either writing or for someone who just loves to read?
Shawna: I'd love to know what readers would like to see more of in Christian fiction, be it genres, issues, and whatnot. I'd also love to know if anyone has ever really felt like a Christian fiction book impacted their life in a profound way. As for writing, what are some of your unique methods for capturing a scene or character's personality? Here's a couple of mine: I character journal to get to know my characters. I also personality type my characters so I can understand where the relationship weaknesses would be, and exploit these to my advantage in the interest of creating tension. (Evil author syndrome). I like to picture scenes in my head like a movie before I write, too, because it help me describe the scene interactively from the character's perspective.
I currently have three books out and I'd love for the winner to pick the one that interests them most. Here are links: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-86/No-Other/Detail.bok http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-118/Shawna-Williams-In-All/Detail.bok
Shirley: Thanks so much for coming , Shawna. Please let us know where else we can find you and your numerous books.
Shawna: Sure! Here's a link to my website: http://shawnakwilliams.com/ My blog: http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/shawnakwilliams And Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Shawna-K-Williams/236629884245
My books can be found at Amazon, B&N, CBD, Borders, Kobo, Sony Reader Store, iBookstore, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks, and the Desert Breeze storefront. Thanks so much for having me, Shirley! This was fun! God bless, Shawna.
WE HAVE APPRECIATED YOUR COMPANY!
Shawna has offered one of her books to you. Can you take a moment to pursue her question? I'd love to draw your name in a few days. Here it is in three parts. Pick one to answer, or all three.
Congratulations to Joy Hannabass of Moneta, Virginia. YOU have just won Shawna's BOOK! She'll be in touch with you soon.
1. I'd love to know what readers would like to see more of in Christian fiction, be it genres, issues, and whatnot.
2. I'd also love to know if anyone has ever really felt like a Christian fiction book impacted their life in a profound way.
3. As for writing, what are some of your unique methods for capturing a scene or character's personality?
I very much appreciate the novelsReplyDelete
that are written with a Christian
aspect. Or biblical application. I get very tired of trying to find a book that doesn't leave me with a
"bad taste" feeling.
Keep up the good writing!
Shawna, You are an amazing writer. Thank you for sharing with us. LisaReplyDelete
Shawna, I have your book Orphaned Hearts on my wish list! I am hard of hearing so the crippled child apppeals to me as does the depression era. Love reading how Christians deal with such trials and tribulations. I would like to see more books on people with disabilities and the Christian way of dealing with the problems and the way people treat them.ReplyDelete
I like stories that talk about people with physical problems too. They are so much more realistic Janice IanReplyDelete
I enjoyed your interview very much.ReplyDelete
As for your question, I'd love to see more christian fiction for teenage/YA boys. There are a few great books out there, but not nearly enough.
Hi Ladies, thank you so much for your encouraging comments.ReplyDelete
Janet, Orphaned Hearts is very special to me. My granddad grew up in an orphanage during that era. My grandmother's dad went to work for the orphanage's dairy and she helped him. That's how my grandparents met. This story ended up really tugging at my heart strings, not just because of Caleb, but also because of the labels both Sadie and David had defined themselves with for so long. It made me so happy to see them break free of those.
JoAnn, No Other is technically a romance, but when I wrote it, I very much wanted to appeal to young men. For some weird reason, I relate to my male characters better than my female ones. Hubby says it's because I think like a guy. Not sure what that means. Anyhow, the male perspective in the book is the stronger viewpoint because the story is slightly more about Jakob than it is about Meri. (In All Things, the sequel, is the opposite). It seems like we always get the girl's perspective about maintaining her honor in regard to sexual temptation, but I wanted the guy's perspective on not just his honor, but the costs to his future and those he loves -- including his girlfriend -- when he loses sight of God's plan. I actually have a number of male readers who picked up this book for various reasons, not expecting to like it and found themselves surprised. The trick is to getting them to start reading, since there aren't any gun battles and all.
Shirley a and Shawna,ReplyDelete
What an awesome interview. I'd say the Christian fiction book which impacted me in a strong, strong way was Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love. First, god is never going to forget His covenant with His children. He is forever forgiving and the story showed me that redemption shines brighter on a darker canvas. And whose canvas hasn't been dark?
Hi Shawna, I've had several Christian Fiction books that impacted me in a strong way. And most Christian Fiction books I read have an illustration, verse or something that helps me in some way. I've even read books that the characters are going through a lot of the same things I am at the time, and boy are they encouraging. The Lord just gives me those books when I need them most.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your giveaways. Would love to win any of your books!
Jude, Redeeming Love is one of my favorites.ReplyDelete
Enjoyed reading your post! Personally, I love to read historical fiction with an inspirational message.ReplyDelete
I would love to see more christian fiction that dealt with PTSD, Eating disorders and Mental illness....especially being married to a spouse with a mental illness.ReplyDelete
I have been impacted by Christian fiction book, many times. I think the first time was when I read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and I saw that God loved me through reading that and it had a huge impact on my life. There are many, many more....CF has had many impacts on my life.
I cannot wait to read the rest of Jakob and Meri's story.
My favorite genre is Regency and there's not too much in that time frame in the Christian market. Linore Burkard does a great job with her series, but I would really like to see more. Many of the secular books set then are just trash. I also wish there were more stories written for YA/middle grade boys. My sons aren't interested in vampires so they read the library selections pretty quick!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of your book. Haven't had the pleasure of reading your work and am always excited to find a "new" author(for me anyway) after visiting someone's blog :)
Thank you for the opportunity to win your book. I love books on christian fiction that deal with life and concerns of the world today.ReplyDelete
I like historical romance, regency, and some westerns too. I guess I just like to read. Look forward to seeing your book too.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Shirley for choosing my name for Shawna's book. I look forward to reading it!!ReplyDelete
I am so excited about winning it!