Shannon, I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?
My mom recently attended our hometown school reunion. In early August, there’s a reunion every year and everybody who ever attended there can come. She told me she saw a couple that I went to school with. The guy had moved here from somewhere else. His mom had been raised here, but his dad was snooty and didn’t like rural Arkansas. I remembered the guy moved here but didn’t stay long.
Mama knew the rest of the story. The guy fell for a girl here and his snooty dad didn’t approve. He actually said, “My son won’t marry some backwoods girl.” They moved, effective ending the romance. The guy and the girl moved on, each married someone else and had kids. Both ended up divorced. Years later, they reconnected. They’re married now and are finally living their happily-ever-after.
It got my writer’s brain to pondering on a high school romance where the girl was rich and dated a guy her dad didn’t approve of. What if her dad broke up the romance? Then eight years later, she comes back to town with their daughter in tow, unaware that the recently moved back too?
And is this the first book you have published?
This is my 16th published title. It’s the first in a new series: Hill Country Cowboys. Hill country refers to the region of Texas that the story is set in, near San Antonio.
How long has it taken you to get published?
It took me 9 1/2 years to get published. My first series of three books was set in Romance and Rose Bud, Arkansas. Both towns are real and in rural Arkansas about thirty-five minutes from where I live. They were with Heartsong Presents owned by Barbour at the time. They were publishing series set in all fifty states at the time. My next series was set in Texas.
I’ve had 1 to 3 books published per year. Until last year, I didn’t have any books released in 2019 due to a combination of things. After publishing four of my books, Barbour discontinued the Heartsong line. But then Harlequin bought it. Since the series was set around a Texas rodeo, and Love Inspired readers love cowboys, I was able to complete the contract I had with Heartsong with five more titles. Then Harlequin discontinued the line. Since I still had contracted books, they let me transition into a new series with Love Inspired.
Then my editor left. Since I’d slipped through the back door to Love Inspired in the past, I had to jump through hoops to get my first real LI contract and win over an editor unfamiliar with my books. It took almost of year of writing and rewriting proposals. So even after you get published, it can still be rocky and sporadic. My new editor recently left. Luckily, I have one more book in my contract, so my new, new editor will have a chance to get familiar with me before I have to submit new proposals.
What draws you to writing contemporary romance as opposed to straight up romantic suspense or romantic comedies?
I’ve read contemporary romance since I was in my teens and I stink at suspense. I wrap it up too soon and focus on the romance. I do put some mystery/suspense and comedic moments in some of my titles, but the focus is always on the romance.
Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favourite authors?
When I started writing in 1999, Inspirational Romance was in its infancy. I didn’t know it was a thing and hadn’t read any until after I completed my first book. When I went to the library to find out how to get published, I got a copy of the Writers Market Guide. Only then did I realize there was a genre for what I’d written. So other writers didn’t influence me. But the first several books I read were Love Inspired. My favorites there are Lenora Worth and Margaret Daly.
Once I started having to write proposals with comparisons to other writers, I explored more to find authors similar to me. I don’t know if they’re similar. But my favorites for longer length are Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, and Melissa Tagg. I have the latest books from Denise and Melissa for when I finish this deadline. I get to read!
What advice would you give to other writers trying to break into the Christian market?
Join a local and national writer’s group. Attend local conferences. After a few years, when you get to the point where you don’t feel like you’re learning anything new, go to a national conference. Also, don’t write one book and submit it and pitch it for years and years. Write more books. With each book, you learn and improve.
What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Reading of course. And I’m very crafty. I like making home decor items and sewing curtain toppers and bedspreads. But I have to really be in the mood to sew or I mess up and get frustrated.
Do you have any quirky, must-have rituals before you get to writing? (candle burning, café latte, coffee shop only, etc.)
I bring a cup of coffee to my desk when I start writing each day. I also keep chocolate covered espresso beans handy to keep me alert. And when I’m proofreading the final version of each book, I eat sunflower seeds still in the shell. It keeps me focused and from getting sleepy. It sounds bad that my books make me sleepy. But after the revisions I do before I turn each manuscript in and the two rounds of revisions my editor requests, I’ve read the book at least a dozen times. I know exactly what’s going to happen next. My ankles are always swelled the next day, but it goes away.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
I couldn’t do it without my husband. When I’m on deadline, he picks up the slack for me. And he’s always been so supportive. Even back when I was costing us money in my pursuit of publication. He’s driven me to countless writer’s group meetings, conferences, workshops, book signings, and speaking engagements. Our vacations have often been worked around a writing event.
If you could have dinner with three famous authors, alive or dead, who would they be?
Denise Hunter, Melissa Tagg, and Becky Wade. I’ve met Denise and Melissa at writer’s conferences, but I don’t really know them. Lenora Worth was the first of my favorites I ever met. She always remembers my name and asks me how I am. I’ve also met Margaret Daly several times and before I was published, she did a paid critique for me on some of my chapters at a national conference. Even though I know Lenora and sort of know Margaret, I’d love to have lunch with them too.
And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
Hill Country Redemption releases March 17th online. It will be in Walmart from mid-March until mid April. I’m excited!!!!
Question for Readers: Why do you love Inspirational Romance? Leave a comment below to be entered in Shannon’s Giveaway!
Giveaway Details: Ten copies of Hill Country Redemption will be split among commentators on Shannon’s blog tour. Winner’s will be revealed on Shannon’s Blog on April 13th.
This cowboy has one more chance to make it right…
He already lost her once…
Now he’s fighting for her—and their daughter.
When Rance Shepherd takes a job stocking cattle for a local rodeo, he’s shocked that his new client is his ex-sweetheart, Larae Collins. Now he’s determined to prove to the single mother that he isn’t the restless cowboy she remembers. But when he discovers her little girl is his, they both must forgive past mistakes for a second shot at a future together.
Get your copy:
(Available at Walmart from mid-March until mid-June)
Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.
Connect with her: Shannon’s Website, Shannon’s Blog, Shannon’s Facebook, Shannon’s Goodreads, Shannon’s Pinterest, Shannon’s Twitter, and Shannon’s Amazon Author Page. Sign up for her Newsletter to get a free e-book and behind the scenes info: Shannon’s Newsletter