Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Shannon Vannatter Returns!

So yesterday we spoke with award-winning romance author Shannon Vannatter about her newest book, Rodeo Dust, which releases in October - as well as where she gets her ideas, how she met her husband, and her shocking puzzle obsession (gasp!)

Today we're back with a few more questions for Shannon - and we can't wait to find out how she, as a pastor's wife, author, and mom of a nine-year-old does it all!

Jenny: How do you write best?

Shannon: My husband and I have a separate office that we share. If I really need to get some writing done, I'm in the office at my desk. If I'm not pressed for time, sometimes I'll do a change of scenery and take my laptop to the recliner in the living room. The summer before last, I did a lot of writing on the front steps of our house, while my son was in the pool with friends. This summer, I decided they were old enough to be out there alone and set up shop at the dining room table next to the window so I could check on them. I write best with no noise or distractions. No TV, music, or anyone home and awake.

Shannon at the computer, writing my very first "badly written" (her words) book back in 1999.

Jenny: Sounds wonderful. Mine is still two, so I'm a little more hands-on now... Well, how do you balance all your many responsibilities, besides parenting and spending time with your husband, like household chores, exercise, Bible study and so forth?

Shannon: During the school year, I write while my son's at school and my husband's at work. When I pick up my son, the computer goes on the back burner. As far as exercise goes, we live on a dead-end gravel road, so when weather permits, after we get homework done, I walk up the road, which is all uphill and quite long, while my son rides his kid-sized four-wheeler. When weather doesn't permit, I do aerobics or treadmill after I take him to school.In the summer, I write after everyone goes to bed, sometimes til 2:00 if I'm on a roll. My son and I both love to swim, so that's my exercise for the summer. We have a lovely blue Walmart pool in our front yard. It was the only spot level enough. And then there's time spent together as a family when my husband gets home from the dental lab.

Jenny: So your husband's a dentist, too, then. You've mentioned before that he's bivocational. Talk about a Renaissance man - dentist and pastor! I love it!

Shannon: So do I! And after our son goes to bed, my husband and I drink coffee and talk for an hour each night.

Jenny: Wait... you drink coffee at night?!

Shannon: Yes, we drink coffee at night. We're such caffeine freaks, it doesn't keep us up.

Jenny: Wow. It would keep me up! Not my husband, of course, who's Brazilian - and Brazilians practically invented coffee. He could probably take it intravenously all day long and still fall asleep. Me? I'd be up all night on the back of the sofa playing the fiddle to some noisy bluegrass.

Shannon: (laughing) Well, I'm a night person, so it helps me wind down. I study my Bible at night, too. Saturday is family day, and we try to do something fun that we all enjoy. I often have speaking engagements or book signings on Saturday, but I try to arrange it where we still have some time - and I try not to book back-to-back Saturdays with writing-related stuff. A lot of the time when I speak at conferences, my guys come with me, and we make it a mini-vacation. Sunday is our busiest, most stressful day because my husband is a bi-vocational pastor.

Shannon says this book signing picture was snapped at a local store that's been really supportive, The Bible House.

Jenny: Well, as a busy mom, do you have any tips, plans, schedules, or advice that keep your household running smoothly?

Shannon: Not a one. I live, work, and love by the seat my pants. I'm the most unorganized person you'll ever hope to meet.

Jenny: (laughing) That must be why we get along so well! I'm very much the same way. So... tell us about your other previously published books. Which ones have been your favorites?

Shannon: I think White Roses will always be dear to my heart. I wrote it shortly after my husband sprang his calling on me. We'd been married sixteen years, and he told me God was calling him to preach. So I wrote a book with a girl feeling unworthy of dating the preacher. That's what the story ended up being after about twenty-five versions, but that's what it started out as. And it was my first traditionally published book and my first major award winner.

Jenny: What other projects do you have in the works?

Shannon: This French guy has been bugging me for about three years. But I didn't have time for him, and I didn't have a setting for him. I finally figured out where his story takes place, so I'm working on the first three chapters and a proposal.

Jenny: Wow! Can't wait to read that one! What else?

Shannon: I have another with an Arkansas setting. It was originally one of my early suspense works. I started from scratch and am rewriting it without the suspense part. But the French guy is bugging me more so that's what I'm currently working on. They're both longer works, more in the 80,000 word realm.

Jenny: What advice would you give to writers hoping to be published one day?

Shannon: Join ACFW. I learned genre generic craft at local conferences. But I learned what it takes to get published, specific to my genre through ACFW.

Jenny: And that's where we met, too, over lovely desserts... in fact, I have a picture of fellow Barbour authors Julie Jarnigan and Roger Bruner with their beautiful chocolate cake right here. (Surprise!) Remember this?

Jenny: Of course I was probably the only weirdo there snapping pictures of other people's plates... Speaking of food, how about that recipe from Rodeo Dust?

Shannon: Here it is!

Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef
2 cans pinto beans
1 8 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can Ro-Tel ( I use original)
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 chopped onion
2 to 3 cans water (depending on how much broth you like)

Brown ground beef and onion. Drain and add remaining ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes. Also great in Crock Pot all day. Serve with Frito corn chips and shredded cheese.

Jenny: Thanks, Shannon! Let's have a few more questions about you before we sign off. What's your favorite thing about your house and the place where you live?

Shannon: I love that we live in the middle of a hayfield. It's very peaceful. You can hear the frogs and crickets at night. And occasionally a pack of coyotes. They sound kind of creepy, but it's home. My parents are across the hayfield, so my son thinks he lives there.

Jenny: I love coyotes! Sigh... Okay, name a place you'd love to go - and a place you'd never want to go.

Shannon: I'd love to go to Georgia. I still have an aunt and cousins there. We've only been there twice since we moved when I was twelve. And... I don't want to go anywhere outside this country. Why bother when we live in the U. S., the best country ever. (I can't believe I said that to someone who lives in Brazil!)

Jenny: I'm totally with you on what a great country we have. But... a certain 6'5" Brazilian and our little curly-haired son made me change my mind about my permanent residency for a while! So how would you spend the perfect day? Watching a soccer game in MaracanĂ£ stadium in Rio? (Just kidding...)

Shannon: No way! With my family. Playing putt golf or tracking through the woods in the fall.

Jenny: The woods in the fall sounds great, especially when I live in eternal summer! Well, to wrap up, Shannon, what's one thing most people probably don't know about you (and
might be surprised if they did)?

Shannon: I'm very girly. People know that. I love ruffles, lace, sparkles, high heel shoes, makeup, and primping. But I also love hiking in the woods, riding four-wheelers, and bowling. But nothing as yucky as fishing. My son is into fishing right now. Ugh.


Well, that's it for today with Shannon Vannatter! And I'm so thankful she could stop by and spend some time giving us these insights about herself and her life. Best wishes on your newest book, Shannon, and in your writing career!

Jenny Rogers Spinola lives in Brasilia, Brazil with her Brazilian husband, Athos, and nearly three-year-old son, Ethan. She didn't want to ever leave the U.S., either, but is really glad she did! Jenny teaches ESL private classes and is the author of Barbour Publishing's "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. Sorry about the spacing in today's post... the single-space thing wasn't working no matter what I did, and it was driving me nuts!

  2. I'm no longer in love with coyotes after killing 50 chickens!

    I love that you are disorganized, sometimes hearing about all these organized women makes me feel bad! Embrace the disorganization! :)

  3. great interview - I love learning new things about Shannon - and Rodeo Dust sounds like an awesome story - thanks for the recipe!

    babykf at hotmail dot com


    I didn't notice the blog spacing. I'd forgotten how huge that cake was. And I think I ate
    it all. Julie is a sweety. She wasn't there this year either. Next year, maybe we can all
    connect again.

    And I should have cleared this up. My husband isn't a dentist. He's a dental technician.
    He makes crowns and bridges. He's definitely multi-talented and a wonderful husband.

    We don't have any chickens. So the coyotes just run on by. I'm glad. Definitely embrace
    the disorganization. We don't have to be perfect.

  5. I would love to share the coyotes! Anyone and everyone is welcome to take them ALL away!

  6. Those coyotes would be my coyotes--and really they're free! :)

  7. Jenny~ How did you DO that great interview with Shannon here and you in Brazil! I really enjoyed these two days with you both. Thanks for the recipe too, Shannon.
    And I used to like hearing the coyotes where I lived in WA, but they sure aren't a good mix with chickens!:)

  8. FROM SHANNON (still having trouble posting):

    Hey Kim,
    I hope you get a chance to read the book and enjoy it and the recipe.

    Disorganized Mamas rule.

    The internet is amazing isn't it. Who knew twenty years ago? I love easy soups and casseroles that you can eat on for several days. You got your meat and veggies all in one.

  9. Sally - thanks! :) Shannon's wonderful, isn't she? And funny - who knew a simple coyote comment would stir up so much discussion! Sort of like reintroducing wolves in the Rockies - that was a big one a few years ago!