Thursday, January 24, 2008

Welcome Shirley Kiger Connolly!

Shirley Kiger Connolly is an exciting new author whose debut novel, Flame From Within—a larger-than-life Civil War sagawill be released in February 2008. In addition, Shirley also has a devotional soon to be out entitled I See God in Simple Things, has authored numerous articles and short stories and runs an international Website ministry for women. Shirley was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and began writing romances as an evangelistic approach to sharing God’s love—a true passion of her heart. Please visit Shirley at her Website at
What is My Focus?
Thank you, Julie Lessman for inviting me to come by and ramble. I write both historical romances and books of devotions. I was thrilled when invited to write about “Everything in Between.”
I recently read Tina Russo’s blog entry here regarding her fondness for vintage typewriters and found it quite fascinating. Isn’t it interesting how her love for the typewriters has become in a small way a conduit to her love for romance writing?
That too is often the way I look at life bringing a comparison to things and marrying them up to others. It is one way I come to find my focus when I write.
Whether I am writing a reflection for one of my written devotionals about the love of God, or writing chapters in my historical romances, everything to me about writing deals with relationships. I find all writing is about relationships. Bringing people together with people in a fiction story or writing a devotional and bringing people together into a closer relationship with God. Relationships.
Dealing with relationships has become the romance of my heart. I need to be careful not to lose that focus when writing.
I don’t necessarily find it in a typewriter. (I use a computer). But I could find it in my chicken coop, as I talk to my hens or Esau my rooster. (He’s handsomely, romantic.)
I often find it in my parlor. It’s easy to pretend my framed Victorian women are real people then create settings and stories that quickly come to life.
When my garden isn’t overloaded with weeds or even when it is, I see romance there in the springtime and while I’m out on one of my rainy afternoon walks, I often dream up a drenching love poem there.
Sometimes while I’m in my Victorian bath I gaze at my claw-foot tub (or climb into it) and while there, think up names for my characters or work on my synopses, if I don’t fall asleep, that is.
I am a hopeless romantic. I can’t help it. God knows. I see Him everywhere.
I guess that’s why I can work both sides of my brain, write both fiction and nonfiction at the same time, and still keep my head on straight.
Relationships. It all centers on keeping my focus right in my romances and with God.
What turns on the romance of your heart?
How do you find your writing focus?
Thanks again, Julie, for letting me come by to ramble! Come visit me anytime.
Shirley Kiger Connolly
Shirley’s Website:


Tina M. Russo said...

Oh my goodness what a thought provoking post.

I love that you climb into your claw foot tub to focus.

I like to write comedy and find I really have to guard my mind when I am writing. I am so easily moved and affected by the world around me.

So when I need to get into that mode I slip in a dvd on my computer and watch scenes from favorite romantic comedies.

The best is the 'paint ball' scene from Failure to Launch.

I end up just laughing hysterically outloud. It triggers my funnybone and I am off.

Mary Connealy said...

Shirley, Thanks for visiting us at Seekerville today.
You're absolutely right that whatever we write boils down to relationships. But I've never heard it put quite that way before. I went to your website. Did you do that yourself? Because it's nice. I'm envious. I'm sure a computer dork it's just scary, I probably shouldn't be allowed to run around least not within reach of a computer keyboard.
Good luck with your upcoming release. An exciting time for you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Shirley, welcome aboard!

So nice to have you over here, visiting us in Seekerville. And I can tell by your post that you are still the same, warm, uplifting wonderful gal you've always been.

And I love claw-foot tubs! They're so cool. I don't think I loved them when I was a kid. Let me just say the aesthetics could have been improved, but they look really great now in the new age commercials with wonderful walls and lighting and a huge, deep tub filled with bubbles.

Now if they could only make one with whirlpool jets for old muscles... that would with the whole antique/clawfoot thing. I'd love it.

Congrats on the upcoming release, kid. Exciting stuff in your corner of the world. Like Tina, I appreciated your keys to inspiration. (and I love that scene in Failure to Launch, too. The whole movie was fun but Terry Bradshaw should always, always wear pants.

Just my opinion.)


I love to throw in Transiberian Orchestra CD's. The Christmas stories beyond the music fascinate me.

And country music snippets paint pictures in my head. So does Brad Paisley but since we're both married....

And yesterday, while I was buffing the tiles of my newly-laid floor (sweat equity causes muscle aches... just sayin'...)the coolest idea for a book unfolded in my head from a brief sentence the DJ used.

What an amazing gift.

Of course if this were colonial Salem we'd be hung, but hey, timing is everything, right????

Good to 'see' you, Shirley. Thanks so much for brightening our Friday.


Missy Tippens said...

Thanks for being with us, Shirley! I get inspiration from movies like Tina does. And from music--lyrics and the music itself. If fact, there's this ending in a Mahler piece that makes me just sob with the glory of it. (Running to look for the name right now. BRB)

Okay, it's Symphony #2 "Ressurection". The ending. Amazing. Of course, that's not something that makes me feel like writing romance. It just makes me see and feel God.

As for feeling like writing romance, that just comes with sitting down and writing. I so want the characters to get together! I can hardly stand keeping them apart. :)

Now I have to go. Tears are streaming down my face as Symphony #2 is playing...


Melanie Dickerson said...

What turns on the romance of your heart?

How do you find your writing focus?

Oh, wow, I'm coming up blank. I hope that doesn't reflect something about my writing. :-) I do get inspired when I watch movies--sometimes.

I think I just want people to feel happy and loved, so I put them (even though they're imaginary they're real to me) through this whole long story to make the happy ending more satisfying. Yes? Sound feasible?

Ruth Logan Herne said...

It sounds very feasible, Melanie, and pretty sensible, too. If the journey isn't worthy of the ending, the ending falls flat.

And Missy, I love when a piece of music does that to me. TSO's third opera, The Lost Christmas Eve was part of my inspiration for a book opening, that feeling of being totally alone on Christmas Eve, how no one wants you over to dinner, no one sets time aside for just you...

How lonely that would seem.

And how close is redemption if we just look beyond ourselves and our own selfish needs.

So I play Christmas music all year and Missy sobs at orchestrated crescendos that help her see and feel God.

Mighty strong inspiration right there, my friends.


Gina Welborn said...

What turns on the romance of your heart?

How do you find your writing focus?

I can totally understand Melanie's blank stare. Uhhhhhhhh. Welllllll. Hmmmmmmm.

Kicking my children out of the room helps a ton. Music helps some, espeially if it's a praise and worship song and I'm dealing with character angst. And a side note of that would be non-fiction books. John Ensor's book on God's mercy and grace (can't ever remember the correct title) has been AMAZING help as I've revised my victorian.

Movie and tv show are inspiring.

When I was writing my medieval, I got about 3/4 the way through and knew I had to figure out a secondary character and her mindset and backstory because I wanted to write her story someday. She's gonna be a vampire killer.:-) Okay, I got off point thinking about all the killing she's gonna do.

While mulling her around in my brain, I went about my normal routine. That night was the episode of lost where the tailie chick/former cop had her backstory moment. Ended up, she'd been pregnant when a badguy shot her and she ended up losing the baby. Finally she waited until he was released and then she exacted judgement. Shot him cold.

That's when it hit me. My future vampire killer is just as hard-hearted, just as black inside. Not because she'd lost a child or been physially wounded in any way, but her inner scars were so deep that she'd become emotionally dead, just like that Lost character. So when she meets the bad guy, she doesn't just stab him once, but she slices his through and tells him, bascially, she's doing it because it makes her happy. Not that it really does, but at that moment, she's soooo consumed with her inner pain, that she thinks taking it out on someone else will release her of it.

I may never get to write her story because I doubt any CBA publisher will by a Christian medieval vampire killer, but I've written her story in my heart. And in that one scene in my medieval.

Finally, I can think of one more thing that inspires me: RESEARCH. I'm a research junkie. In the last two days, I googled Georgian mansions, London banking system and specific banks, lodging houses/inns, Victorian clothing, Queen Victoria, Lord Melbourne, dancing, card playing, 10 things you should never say to a man, and 10 things you shoudl never say to a woman. And those are only teh web pages I found significant info to save. Did I mention I love research?

I found a page the other day listing the different bills and stuff discussed during a House of Lords session. Silly me forgot to save teh page and now I can't find it again.

The best help/muse, though, is what Missy said:

As for feeling like writing romance, that just comes with sitting down and writing. I so want the characters to get together! I can hardly stand keeping them apart. :)

Love it!

Shirley Connolly said...

That claw foot tub thing is part of a Saturday night ritual as long as I have lots n lots of bubbles. Believe me, Tina, I couldn't think of anything romantic if I climbed into that tub and had to actually look at MYSELF! Whew!

I've never tried your dvd into the computer approach. Hmmm.

Mary Connealy said...

I'm an insomniac. When I go to bed at night, I lay awake and mull the direction of my current scene or next scene, no reflection on my writing I hope, that it is for some reason soothing to me. Actually WRITING is mentally invigorating so I have to quit and have some downtime, usually re-reading something I loved, new reading is a problem, keeps me up.

But those quiet moments where I mull over the upcoming events usually sets me on my path of writing for tomorrow and helps me sleep.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Great post, Shirley.

Also, thanks for plugging our Seeker blog on the ACFW loop right before the mods reminded us we're not supposed to. LOL!

I can laugh because some of the mods are my friends.

That's not a job I'd want in a million years.


Pam Hillman said...

Dreaming up scenes and characters come at the oddest times for me, times when I'm supposed to be doing something else.

One of these days my brain is going to have free-rein to gallop along all the exciting paths I dream up!

Then, watch out! lol

shirley connolly said...

That insomniac thing you mentioned hit home as well! I too have many a night when I am so over-focused I cannot sleep at all because my brain doesn't want to stop. Thankfully it isn't usually one of those nights I'm concentrating on one of my chickens and how one of their morning egg-laying fiascos is going to relate to some reflection I'm going to write about God the next day. I much prefer it when it is on a night when I'm in a romantic mood and my heroine is about to MAYBE receive her first kiss from one of her potentials.

On another note: I didn't mean to be naughty and plug where I wasn't supposed to plug over at you know where. At the time I wasn't really thinking. I didn't really put it together that I wasn't supposed to. (Not a good reader of all the rules.)
But now that I did, I'm glad I did.

Julie Lessman said...

Hi Shirley, sooo glad you joined us today -- great blog!

What turns on the romance of my heart? Uh, the treadmill. Yeah, I know that's not real romantic, but either is exercising, so my brain has to make it enjoyable SOMEHOW!!! Honestly, I get some of my best scenes on the treadmill ... although, come to think of it, I did come up with a killer scene at a funeral mass I attended ...

And, Gina, I have to know -- what on God's green earth does ANYONE want with "different bills and stuff discussed during a House of Lords session"???????

Wait ... maybe I don't want to mock someone whose next heroine is going to be a vampire killer who slices through somebody because it makes her happy. Never mind.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

I'm a helpless romantic, too! Great post.

Pamela J said...

"What turns on the romance of your heart?" I find the more grateful I am for what has been happening spurs my romantic mood. Doesn't scripture say we are to be thankful for everything? To keep my focus where God wants is to rise above the mundane dark stuff of this world. Focus. When I turn and think of self instead of those people and things around me is when the romance, gratefulness and thankfulness leave me. Where are your spiritual eyes today?
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Lori said...

Pam, I like your question "Where are your spiritual eyes today?" That's a good one. :)

As to getting the creativity flowing, I agree with the rest of you that creativity begets creativity. (BTW, it was on my list of things to do today to use the word "begets".) When I need to get into writing gear, music, movies, great books all help. Something I've been doing alot lately is making a playlist for my current WIP. Songs that relate to the mood or the plot, or the character's spiritual struggle. It's been really helpful!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pam, you're right, an open heart leaves us ready for so much. Romance, appreciation, gratitude, optimism, recieving God's grace.

I love grace. I love the very essence and idea of grace. What a wonderful concept.

I'm just sayin'.


Gina Welborn said...

And, Gina, I have to know -- what on God's green earth does ANYONE want with "different bills and stuff discussed during a House of Lords session"???????

Well, Julie, since you asked...

One of the interesting bits I remembered was about Lord So-and-So and the debt on his family estate. So the Lords were discussing how to...well, basically force him to sell his land/house to pay his bills.

I wish I still had the link or could at least find it again because I'd share some of more "story nuggets."

Oh, another place I found inspiration is in old Scotland Yard police reports. They're like watching 1800-version of COPS. What a hoot!

So let's take your time period--1910/20 Boston. I googled and discovered that Patrolman John J. Earle of the Boston Police Department, MA died.
EOW: Saturday, October 21, 1916
Cause of Death: Struck by train

What I wonder is what was he doing to get hit by a train? And what if it wasn't an accident?

The answer: Patrolman Earle succumbed to injuries received the previous day when he was crushed between two trolley cars the intersection of Boylston Street and Washington Street. The inbound trolley failed to make the switch properly and struck the outbound trolley, causing the accident.

Patrolman Earle had been with the agency for four years. He was 34.

Here's another:
Patrolman Ward M. Bray
Boston Police Department, MA
EOW: Thursday, April 14, 1921
Cause of Death: Motorcycle accident

So was he working? How long had he been riding a motorcycle? Did he leave any family?

I can't answer all those, but I did find out that Patrolman Bray was killed when his police motorcycle was struck by a commercial vehicle while he was on patrol. He had been with the agency for two years. He was 27.

Now what would happen if one of my lead characters was friends with one of these men? What if s/he witnessed the accident? I figure historical writers put stuff in that their readers probably will NEVER catch, but those little hidden nuggets sure make me happy because they give a historical an authentic flair.

Did you know Boston's Police department had troubles forming a new force? Read the article on December 25, 1920, Saturday, Page 3, 147 words, NY Times.

Or this: September 9, 1919 The Boston police department goes on strike. Can you imagine the turmoil in the city? Calvin Coolidge, governor of Massachusetts at the time, called out the militia to assist Harvard students and faculty who were acting as a volunteer force. (He later used the incident to boost himself to the presidency.)

Finding stuff like this leads me to wondering and googling even more.

The Community Church of Boston
was formed/started in 1920. WOnder if they argued over the color of the carpet? Or whether or not to wallpaper the ladies room?

Did you know there was a Japan Society in Boston? The Japan Society sponsored social events, hospitality for visiting Japanese dignitaries (notably Prince and Princess Takamatsu in April 1931), cultural events such as concerts by local musicians and tea ceremonies, and occasionally lectures on current events.

I wonder what would have happened if someone had tried to assignate the P and P but the befuddled heroine helped the hero save the day and managed to get everyone's dinner served without a hitch.

Okay, I could waste hours just finding interesting tidbits in your setting and time period. And that's why I was reading about the bills and whatnot the House of Lords had going on in 1839. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Amazing what one body can do while nursing an infant....

Wonderful, Gina.

I offer respect to your Googling fingers.

And, while doing so, I have to totally agree with you. Lots of times when I'm researching a new book I come up with bits and characters connected with the research that round out the story. Real life people and incidences that tumble into my fiction world with nary a holler.

And how spoiled are we, as writers, to have an established Internet, a wealth of encyclopedic information, here at our fingertips.

As long as you check your facts, of course.

But Gina I can see how intoxicating that research is. Keep it up, Sweet thang....

You're doing fine.


Gina Welborn said...

Thanks, Ruthie! Guess I better clarify the the baby stopped nursing after RWAnats. No more Klingons in my household.

Pangirl said...

Its interesting that you talk about the vintage typewriter... Mum tryped a few of her short stories on just one of those! But the majority of them were handwritten and what a time I had trying to analyze her writing!

Julie Lessman said...

Let it be known that today -- January 26, the year of our Lord 2008 -- Julie Lessman bows to the research genius of one Gina Welborn and will NEVER, EVER mock her again.

I am in awe of your mind and your research, not to mention the fact that you shut me up. Not an easy thing to do ... :)

bigguysmama said...

I love how you find romance everywhere. I can see how you'd be able to find it in a garden. I'll have to look at things differently. Wonder why I can't do that stuff on my own. Thank you for sharing!


Gina Welborn said...

Aw shucks, Julie. You make me blush.

I've heard it said that only about 10% of what we reseach should actually go in the book as to not overwhelm the reader. I don't know if that's a reasonable estimate or not. But I'm sure only 5% of what I research goes into mine.

On a side note, the guy behind me in the coffee line at church was rather impressed with I told my friend all I'd learned about Jamaican coffee. And my friend was rather impressed I could name two Boston cops who died on the job back in 1920-ish. :-) I'm such a geek.