Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Introducing Shannon Vannatter!

It's always funny how you meet people, isn't it?

Shannon Vannatter and I met at my first American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference (ACFW) last year in Indianapolis. I'd never been to an ACFW Conference (which was absolutely WONDERFUL, just life-changing) and I'd never been to Indiana. And frankly, it had been a while since I'd had a trip home to the U.S. away from Brazil, so I was sopping up every minute.

In fact, I was rejoicing over the raspberries or chocolate or something on the luscious dessert Barbour Publishing bought its writers - probably even taking a picture of it - when Shannon and I struck up a conversation.

We've kept in touch since then, done interviews together, and both have new books releasing soon (although this definitely isn't Shannon's first!) - the more I find out about Shannon, the more I love her. I couldn't wait to do this interview about her and learn more about her family, lifestyle, and prior writing experiences.

Shannon is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife in central Arkansas. Her debut novel, White Roses, won the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category. The Eighteenth Annual Heartsong Awards named her Third Favorite New Author, and White Roses #1 and White Doves #8 in the contemporary category. The Arkansas Democrat Three Rivers Edition voted her "One of Twenty to Watch in 2011."

Shannon has taught fiction workshops at The White County Creative Writers Conference in Searcy, Ark., Life Press Christian Writers Conference in Memphis, Tenn., Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Ark., and Ozark Romance Authors Conference in Springfield, Mo. She also taught a writing class as a continuing adult education course at the Arkansas State University.

Her latest book, Rodeo Dust, will be available through Heartsong Presents in October and her first e-book, Rodeo Hero, releases in 2012.

She's also kindly agreed to give away a copy of Rodeo Dust (isn't that a gorgeous cover?!) so please leave a comment on this post. The winner will be chosen Thursday.

So, Shannon, I can't wait to find out more about you! Thanks for interviewing with me.

Jenny: How did you get started writing? Do you have any special or funny memories related to writing?
Shannon: I had a story in my head from the time I was fifteen, and it wouldn't leave me alone. But I didn't realize it could be a book until I was thirty. At thirty-three, I got a hand-me-down computer and as soon as it was operational, I was writing the story that had tormented me all those years. It was very badly written, but still a good story. Even in it's badly written state, I got encouraging rejections. The editors said it was a good story, I just needed to work on my craft. One editor said that if I worked on my craft, the big publishers would jump on it. That still gives me a giggle since I know how badly written it was and the big publishers haven't jumped my way yet. Now that I've gotten the craft down, maybe I'll rewrite it someday.

Jenny: That's amazing! I'd love to read it. So what were your first stories and books about?
Shannon: They were romantic suspense. But I realized I really don't like researching murder and mayhem. I finally took stock of the fact that I read romance. It made sense to write what I love.

Jenny: Now we're all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to hear YOUR love story...
Shannon: I met my husband in the ninth grade. It was his hair.

Jenny: (laughing)
Shannon: He had John Travolta (from the "Welcome Back Kotter" days) hair. (Oops - I just showed my age...) Anyway, I saw him and thought, "I'm going to marry that guy." Based totally on his hair. He says the same thing about me. I had long, all one length, straight-as-a-stick hair, and he loved. it! Now he's bald on top and keeps his head shaved, while I wear mine shoulder length and poufy. So we had to find something else to base our relationship on. My parents both walked me down the aisle to give me away at our wedding. We've been married twenty-seven years and we have a biologically nine-year-old son. It's a long story. The greatest thing about my husband is that he's very supportive - and he still makes me laugh.

Shannon and her husband kissing at the Romance Waterfalls in Arkanasas. Her books White Roses, White Doves, and White Pearls are all set in Romance. People go there to get married, often at the waterfall.

Jenny: I love your story! I had no idea about the hair... yours looks pretty amazing, though, in your head shot. You have a great family! What's your son like?

Shannon: He's... really stubborn. He gets that from his dad. But his dad says he gets it from me. He's a wonderful artist, which he gets from his dad. He drew stuff when he was four that blew adults away. He's good at playing guitar too. He started lessons last January and it's amazing how he's progressed. When he was three and a half, we were remodeling our kitchen. We'd torn out the cabinets and he could walk up to the window for the first time in his life. He looked out and said, "Hey, I can see out this window because my head sits up so high on neck now." :)

Jenny: I love it! So how did you grow up, Shannon? Where? What previous jobs have you held?
Shannon: I was born in rural Arkansas, and I've lived in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and near Atlanta, Georgia from the ages of one to twelve - then moved back to rural Arkansas. I graduated in a class of twenty, and that was a huge class for our tiny school. I went to cosmetology school and worked as a hairdresser, a loan clerk at a bank, and a data entry clerk for a large fragrance company. Then I had a baby and retired to be a stay-at-home mom/writer/pastor's wife, not necessarily in that order.

Jenny: You were a hairdresser! So that explains the great hair. Well, what other interests do you have outside of writing?
Shannon: I love to sew, but not clothes. If you make a pucker in clothing, it shows. I sew home interior stuff: curtains, valances, bedspreads, and comforters. If you make a pucker, there's enough ruffles it doesn't matter. I only have one set of curtains, one set of toppers, and one bedspread in our house that I didn't make. My son loves it because he always has a cool room unlike any of his friends. He's had Noah's Ark, Bob the Builder, Spiderman, Patriotic, and currently Arkansas Razorbacks.

Jenny: I'm a horrible seamstress. But I really admire people who can sew! What else do you enjoy?
Shannon: I love jigsaw puzzles. At least 1000 pieces, but not the ones that are all the same color. That's just frustrating. Puzzles relax me, but I don't want to do anything else. No cooking, no showering, just leave me alone and let me do my puzzle. Because I get so fixated, I don't do them very often. My parents got me a puzzle board one year for Christmas. It has drawers around the sides for the pieces. It was the best gift I ever got. And of course, I love reading. But it's just like the puzzles, I don't want to do anything else if I'm reading a good book.

Jenny: Good writers are often voracious readers. So let's find out a little about your writing. Can you tell us a little bit about Rodeo Dust?
Shannon: I had a lot of fun with the hero's dialogue. He thinks and says everything in rodeo, bull, and ranch terms. Here's the back cover blurb:

Ad exec Rayna Landers meets bull rider Clay Warren at the State Fair of Texas. While Rayna thinks she’s content solo, Clay longs for marriage and family. Though poised to win his third world championship, his ranch is in a slump. Clay convinces his publicist to hire her advertising firm in a last-ditch effort to keep his employees and lasso her heart.

Soon the city girl is on the ride of her life, until the rodeo unearths buried memories from her past. Clay sees her through the trauma, but an injury and his stubborn determination to get back in the hypothetical saddle threatens their budding relationship. Can they rely on God to find their common ground or will they draw a line in the rodeo dust that neither will cross?

Jenny: Wow! Where did you come up with the idea for that one?
Shannon: I usually get ideas from things I see. Rodeo Dust came from several years ago when we'd taken our son to the Arkansas State Fair. I saw a cowboy-to-the-bone guy dressed in typical Wranglers, boots, and hat holding hands with a city girl dressed in a spiffy business suit and suede boots. I wondered how they met and what they had in common. The wondering became a book. And since my husband is from Texas, I decided to set the story there.

Jenny: What's one thing you hope readers will come away with after reading Rodeo Dust?
Shannon: That we must trust God with everything this world holds.

We'll stop here for today, put please tune in for tomorrow's segment - where we're going to find out how Shannon does it all, the place she'd never go (you won't believe this one!), and something pretty much nobody knows about her. Oh, and a recipe, too!

Don't forget to comment on today's post for a chance to win a free book!

You can find out more about Shannon and her books at her website: http://shannonvannatter.com - and her blog where she celebrates real and fictional love stories with weekly inspirational author features and book giveaways: http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog.

Her latest book, Rodeo Dust, will be available through Heartsong Presents in October, and her first e-book, Rodeo Hero releases in 2012.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jenny Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and nearly three-year-old son, Ethan. She's been to a rodeo once - in Georgia - and does, in fact, own a cowboy hat. Jenny teaches ESL private classes and is the author of Barbour Books' "Southern Fried Sushi" series (first book released OCTOBER FIRST!) and an upcoming romance novella collection based on Yellowstone National Park (also with Barbour Books).


  1. Hey Jenny,
    Thanks for the interview. It was fun. And thanks for the hair compliments. I was always an avid primper, so I guess it made sense for me to be a hairdresser.

    I'll be checking in if anyone has any questions or comments.

  2. I love making up stories for people I see together that isn't typical, that's what my first book was about--that made up backstory. :)

  3. I've never come up with a story based on a couple I've seen somewhere. Maybe I'm the oddball, but my story ideas normally start in my brain, or as I'm doing research and I find something that makes me think "that would have been a really interesting event to live through.

  4. Thanks for the interview, Shannon! You're so much fun to talk to! Oh, and I think I know where the dessert photos are from our lunch that day in Indianapolis... :D

  5. I enjoyed today's interview...Rodeo Dust sounds like it will be a great story. While reading the blurb, I was thinking of Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman) and her hubby Marlboro Man...city slicker girl and cowboy. =) Looking forward to tomorrow's installment.

    I have always loved puzzles...and I have focus issues too. When I was in middle school, I had a table in my room where the family would congregate to put puzzles together. Many times after everyone was in bed, I'd get up and work on the puzzles....wonder if anyone ever figured out why the puzzles were finished so fast. =)

    PS: Don't include me in the drawing as I just won a book here a couple of weeks ago. Thanks.

  6. For some reason my comment didn't show up! Oh well . . .

    I love that Shannon describes herself as an "avid primper." She made sure, at last year's ACFW in Indy, that she had a chance to primp before any photos were taken! LOL

    Love the interview!! Just don't send me any 1000-piece puzzles! 750 stretches the limits of my patience!

    Love you, Shannon!

    PS - don't include me in the drawing, either. I have my OWN personalized copy! :)

  7. I'm sure I don't count in the drawing, either, but I'd looooove to read your book, Shannon!

  8. You're my girl, Shannon. Help me win the book!

  9. Would love to win Shannon's book!! I have read her others and loved them!!! Thanks.

  10. Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This book looks absolutely amazing. I would LOVE to win this. I will have to find it if I don't win. Thanks again.



    Shannon's having trouble posting for some reason, so I'll post for her. - JRS

    You sound like a natural born writer.

    My historical writing crit partner discovers a setting or event and then builds her
    characters around it.

    Watching you really enjoy your meal and dessert made me realize how much I take for
    granted. I'd love to get your opinion on any of my books.

    What I didn't say is that when I'm writing--I definitely don't want to do anything else. I
    work very hard at only writing when my family isn't home or when they're asleep. Once I
    get started, I can't stop.

    Was my primping really that bad? I was better this year, wasn't I? It was great seeing you
    in person again in St. Lou and meeting your sweet husband.

    Hey Illene,
    I'd love to connect with you in person again. I thought I might make the Arkansas
    Inspirational meeting this month, but I have a book signing that day. Sounds familiar, I
    know. But one of these days, I'll show up and surprise everyone.

    Thanks for being a great cheerleader!

    I'm glad you're excited about the book. I am too!


    I loved the interview with Shannon! I'm sure being a Pastor's wife keeps her pretty busy as well as raising her nine year old son. I am so happy that family is important to her. It's just my husband and myself now. We try to have a date night, date day, or whatever as often as possible. I never want our 7 1/2 year marriage to get old. (We've both been married before)

    I need to try that Taco Soup!! Yummy!

    Her book Rodeo Dust sounds like a great read! I'd love to win a copy of it!


  13. Guys, something seems to be preventing some people from commenting/posting... I'm not sure what it is, but Melissa and I are trying to figure it out so we can get it straight. So sorry about the inconvenience! Please send any comments/questions to me (jenny[at]aggeai[dot]com) and I'll be happy to post for you, since mine are going straight through with no problems.

  14. Yes, that is a totally gorgeous cover! And it sounds wonderful! My cousins are rodeo cowboys, so I know what that life is like :)

    Please enter me
    crazi.swans at gmail dot com


    My dad was the announcer at our very small town rodeo and I worked in the concession
    stand. I don't think my parents realized that my attraction wasn't the money, it was the
    cowboys. So, I had a bit of experience to draw on.