May 21, 2010

Please Welcome Shawna K. Williams

The American Christian Fiction Writers have chosen Shawna K. Williams first release, NO OTHER, as a featured book for their book club. Congratulations!

Hi Shawna,

Thanks so much for visiting The Balanced Writer today. I'm excited to have you share info about your new release, and how you balance writing into your life. How about a little introduction about you and where you're from?

I'm Shawna Williams, but my author name is Shawna K. Williams, (my maiden name is Kail.) I've been married to a really sweet guy I met way back in college for eighteen and a half years, and we have three fantastic kids. We live on a ranch in Mena, AR with our extended family of cattle, horses, dogs, cats, goats and rabbits. I know there are all kinds of rumors about Arkansas -- and I suspect some of them are true -- but it's the one of the most beautiful places in the world, I think, and full of wonderful, down-to-earth, warm-hearted people – for the most part.

Is NO OTHER your first book?

Yep! It sure is, but I currently have two more under contract. I also have several short stories that have been published.

How long have you been writing?

I was struck with the desire to write about eight years ago after a really bizarre dream, unlike any I'd ever had. Prior to that, this wasn't something I'd never considered doing.

The dream was a complete story, in scenes, of a man and woman's life. First as they fell in love, then as young parents, then they faced the challenges of career and family, and last was from the perspective of an old woman, who watched her children from afar because she was a stranger to them. Weird, huh?

I couldn't stop thinking about it. For about six months I pondered on it, trying to fill in gaps about how they met, why did they choose certain career paths, why did she end up estranged from her family? It eventually grew so complex in my mind that I couldn't keep track and had to start writing. When I first began I didn't want to tell anyone, including my husband, because I thought they'd think I was crazy. As the story progressed though I eventually shared it with my husband, who was supportive from the start, then a few close friends.

By the time I was done, the book was around 167,000 words. And it was awful! I just didn't know it at the time. Over the next six years I revised, put away, pulled out and revised again, put away. Finally, a little over two years ago I felt like God was telling me it was time to get serious. That's when I started studying the craft of writing through books and critique groups. I also started submitting short stories, and was blessed to have several accepted for publication right away. That gave me the encouragement to rewrite the first part of my awful novel into a separate book, which comes out in May, and the sequel will release in November.

Do you feel you've had to make sacrifices to be an author? What kind?

Yes, but I think that's the case for anything you hope to achieve. Most things don't just happen without a lot of hard work, and hard work takes time. There are only so many hours in a day, so when we devote a lot of time to one goal, there's not as much for other obligations and interests. I try to compensate by doing a lot of my writing at night, but with the deadlines for two more books approaching, plus the extraordinary amount of time that promotion requires, writing related activities do take up a large chunk of my day too. My kids are older and that helps. But there are things that I want to do, or feel like I should be doing that get put on the backburner. Plus, there's the lack of sleep. But that's just how it is with any goal – rewards and sacrifices go hand in hand.

Tell us a little more about the new release.

No Other is a 20th Century Historical, Inspirational Romance. It’s set in a coastal Texas town during 1947, a couple of years after WWII. I really enjoyed writing a story set in this time period because, instead of focusing on how the nation recovered in broad terms, I was able to focus on how individuals set about recovering emotionally from such an event.

Jakob is trying to resume life and deal with his anger over the events of the past five years. His parents are German immigrants who were interned at a camp known as Crystal City during the war. As an American born child he feels betrayed and angry, not just at his community, but at himself because of an incident that he was involved in which he feels may have contributed to their arrest.

Jakob was forced to quit school in order to care for his younger sibling during the war. With the war ended and life beginning to settle, he decides to go back to school and get his diploma so he can move on to bigger and better dreams. It’s immediately awkward though because one of his teachers is a girl he previously went to high school with.

Meri comes from an affluent and socially elite family. She’s a dutiful daughter but also conflicted. On the one hand she desperately wants her parents approval — that’s the only time they offer her their love — on the other hand, she wants to be free of the control they exert over her life.

As friendship blooms and feelings develop Meri begins to understand what real love is supposed to be, and Jakob, seeing the pain her family has caused her, wants to shelter her from more. Of course, the first big obstacle is that because of the nature of their situation (her being his teacher) any type of romantic relationship is unethical, and then there’s also the social issues to consider. Meri and Jakob decide to pursue a secret romance, in which lies lead them to trouble in more ways than one. And I’ll leave the rest as a mystery.

Here's a link to the blurb and excerpt on my publisher's site.

What is your routine, if you have one? Could you share how you work non-writing responsibilities into your day?

Right now, while promoting a new book, writing or writing related stuff is most of what I do all day. The house is a wreck and we've been eating dinners I can throw together in twenty minutes or less, but fortunately I have a very understanding and supportive family.

I think balance is my biggest struggle. When I write I have to immerse myself into the characters and setting, therefore I don't even try during the day. Too much going on. I use the daylight hours for editing, reading, and promotion. Those things I can easily set aside and come back to later, so I'm still able to look after my family and take care of other needs around the house, or run kids to their events, friends' houses, appointments, etc.

The evening hours are for family. We watch a movie or do something together.

Hubby and I are late night people, and that's when we get our alone time. But I'm currently enforcing a rule that he go to bed by eleven so I can get to work. I love him, but if he's awake and watching television, he pauses it every five minute to show me something he's sure I need to see – you know, like a guy flipping his motorcycle while doing a wheely. Important stuff. Lol! So I just wait until he's asleep before I write.

It takes me a little while to switch gears, even after he's in bed I need another half an hour to get my mindset right. Then I work until 3-4am. I'm a little sleep deprived these days. I don't intend for this to be a permanent schedule. It's just necessary until I complete these next two books.

If you had it to do differently, would you have approached your writing career in any other way?

I don't think so. I might feel different in the future, but for now I'm very pleased with the ways things have turned out.

What does the future hold for you? Any new stories on the horizon?

The sequel to NO OTHER is coming out in November, and a really sweet story, called ORPHANED HEARTS, will release in December. I have several ideas brewing for stories after that. We'll see what happens.

Summer's around the corner. What's your favorite ice cream?

Hmm...I guess Cookies'n Cream. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Peach or Strawberry, too, but what I really love are those banana pops I used to get from the Ice-Cream Truck when I was a kid.

Please tell readers where they can find out more about you or buy your books:

Sure, you can find out more about me and my books on my website, or from my blog:

The name of my blog is My Father's Oldsmobile, and there's a funny story about why I named it that, Just click on the car to read it. My book can be purchase at Amazon Kindle, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks, and the Desert Breeze storefront. In a matter of days it will also be available at Barnes&Noble, and The Sony Reader Store. In the near future it will be for sale at the iBookstore too.

Danielle, I want to give away a Kindle download, or other ebook format depending on the winner's preference. Along with that I'd like to mail the winner a freshwater pearl/inspirational bracelet, and a signed postcard. (However you want to do the drawing for this is up to you)

For the month of May I'm running a contest with three prizes – a Good one, a Great one, and a Grand one. You can enter multiple times, the details are here.

Anyone leaving a comment today gets one entry (please leave your email. I promise these will all be destroyed after the drawing) And, if you can answer this question you get another entry.

What did Jakob's brother, Joe, throw at Jakob when he entered the store? (This question is worth 3 entries)

The answer can be found near the end of the second chapter, viewable through Freado, where you can also read the first four chapters.

Or through the free sample available as a Kindle download.

That is so generous of you, Shawna. I'll hold a drawing one week from today for everyone who comments by midnight (Thursday, the 27th) and let you know the winner.

Thanks, Shawna. Best of luck with your new release!



Miss Mae said...

Hi Danielle and Shawna!

Oh, mercy, how can you stay up till 3 in the morning??? I really can't concentrate at that time, but I do so understand about your hubby needing to show you "important" stuff on the television. I get that all the time! LOL

Congrats on your ACFW honor, and "No Other" sounds awesome! :)

Anne Patrick said...

Ha! I do my best writing between midnight and 4am. Maybe there's something magical in the air around that time *grin*.

Wonderful interview, ladies. No Other is already on my TBR list. I'm looking forward to reading it.

StephB said...

Danielle and Shawna, what a great interview. I get to know you a little better with each interview, Shawna. Balance is indeed tricky, isn't it? And there are never enough hours in the day. Trust me.

Congrats on the ACFW selecting "No Other" as their book of the month for Sept.


Danielle Thorne said...

Yes, congrats to Shawna being chosen at ACFW. I'm still not over it. That is such awesome news. I'd be dancing on the rooftops!

Shawna Williams said...

I'm still very excited about the ACFW bookclub too!

The late nights have been having a cumulative effect recently, making it really hard to get much done. Last night I took a nap from 10 - 11:20, and then got up to write, and it worked pretty well. So I may try that more often.

Margaret West said...

I've been known to sit up until 3 or 4 am. We must be night owls lol

Historical, Inspirational Romance. Everything I love to read, write and live by.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments. The book sounds really good and I would like to read it. I am always looking for differnt authors to read.

Heather Justesen said...

Great interview! it's amazing how much time publicity takes out of our writing schedules, isn't it?

And I loved the bit with the nutty putty--brilliant idea for the store! =)

Moon_Pie said...

love the pix on the sidebars and the lavender color!

Shawna Williams said...

Heather, silly putty was developed by accident as a failed rubber substitute during the war. But it ended up being packaged as a toy, under different names, one of them being Nutty Putty. Then someone --I'd have to look at my notes because I have his name -- got the bright idea of putting it in an egg and marketing it for Easter, and it was introduced at the world fair in 1949 as Silly Putty.

Danielle Thorne said...

Congrats to Miss Mae for winning Shawn's drawing! Thank you for visiting Miss Mae!

Diane Pollock said...

Very enjoyable interview!

Tina Pinson said...

Hey, great interview

In answer to the question for today.

Joe threw a ball of gray at Jakob. Well Nutty Putty or what we now call Silly Putty. (Hmm there's another story there possibly as to why the name was changed.)

Merely kidding...

already have the book, but that Locket...