Friday, April 1, 2011

Writing the Second Book with Guest Blogger Shannon Vannatter

In early 2009, after 9 1/2 years of rejections, requests, and disappointments, I got my first contract with Heartsong Presents. I’d made it. My euphoria lasted until my editor asked one simple question.

JoAnne: “Can this be a series?”
Me: “Okay.”

Never mind that White Roses was never supposed to be a series. I scrambled for ideas and wrote a one page synopsis for two more books within a month’s time. The first pre-book synopsis this seat of the pants writer had ever written.

JoAnne approved the series and set dates to sign contracts. Euphoria again—for about a week. Then realization dawned—by jukies, I had to write the second book. These four words struck fear and writer’s block in my newly contracted soul. It had taken me eight years to mold White Roses into a publishable book and I only had eight months to write book two.

So what’s a newly contracted, under deadline, blocked writer to do? I went to a writers’ workshop. Kaye Dacus was the teacher and mentioned that she’s a seat of the pants writer. After class, I told her I’m a pantser and writing my pre-book synopses and facing my first deadline had blocked me. She gave wonderful advice: Put the synopsis away and work on something else until it’s out of your head, then write the book.

It worked. The words started flowing. As I wrote, the pieces of the puzzle came together, new directions took shape, but I still tried to pack everything from the synopsis in. In the end, I threw everything in, but the kitchen sink. Then just as I thought things were coming together, I got the content edit on book one, with a mere month to make the requested changes. The first content edit was like pulling all my hair out, then trying to put it back in and make it look nice. Somehow, I did it and got back to work on book two.

The day before my very first deadline, I turned in the biggest mess of a book. White Doves ended up needing two content edits. My brilliant content editor painstakingly suggested storylines to keep, cut, and pull.

I survived and Heartsong published the book. In hindsight, of course things are clearer. I came up with a few tips that would have helped with book two and did help with book three:

1. Pray.
A. Turn this book over to God.
B. What message does God want in this book?
C. For peace during the process.

2. Get creative juices flowing.
A. Pray.
B. Take a walk.
C. Turn the TV & radio off.
D. Brainstorm with a writing friend.
E. Read headlines or watch the news.

3. Get past fear and writers’ block.
A. Pray.
B. Put your synopsis away.
C. Write anyway.
D. Brainstorm with a writing friend.

4. Don’t follow the synopsis.
A. If your story takes another direction, go with it.
B. If you like the new direction, check with your editor.
C. If your editor approves, find threads to pull from the synopsis.

5. Take a break.
A. Don’t allow yourself to write for a week.
B. Work on a different writing project.
C. Critique others’ work.

6. The story is flowing and wham, you get the content edit for book one.
A. Read it and put it away for one or two days.
B. Tackle one task at a time and work your way down the list.
C. Check each item off as you achieve each change.
D. If the requested change affects the entire manuscript, work on each thread individually.

7. Trust your editors.
A. Editors expect newly contracted writers to turn in substandard work.
B. Your editor will help you make the book work.
C. It will be okay, and book three will be easier.

The good news:
In the end, my editors helped me mold the book into a cohesive work of fiction. Readers like the book. Book three wrote itself and took less edits than book one or two. I still want to write.

To get your name in the drawing for a copy of White Doves, Shannon's second book, leave a comment about writing the second book tips, getting past block tips, and not pulling your hair out tips.

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Her debut three book series is set in Romance and Rose Bud, AR and published by Heartsong Presents, a division of Barbour Publishing. Heartsong book club members voted Vannatter # 3 favorite new author, White Roses #1 and White Doves #8 in the contemporary category of the 18th annual Heartsong Presents Awards. The Arkansas Democrat Three Rivers Edition voted Vannatter one of 20 to Watch in 2011. Vannatter is currently working on her new Texas rodeo series for Heartsong.
WHITE May 2010/Stores Nov 2010
WHITE Oct 2010/Stores Apr 2011
WHITE PEARLS- Jan 2011/Stores July 2011


  1. This is SO good and timely. Thanks for being here. I especially liked: Book three wrote itself and took less edits than book one or two. I still want to write.

    I'm planning a 3 book series so we shall see about that 3rd book! ha!

    I'll be printing this one off and reminding myself to PRAY. You said it - What message does God want in this book? YES YES YES!!!

    Thank you again. Congratulations and may the Lord continue to bless your work!

    may at maythek9spy dot com

    Helen's not here yet (as I'm writing) so I'll get the tea kettle ready with an assortment of Twining's and some really good crisp cookies for a treat.

  2. I'm just beginning to write my first book, so I'll apply these tips as I write. Should make for a much better first draft.

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Thanks for the help, KC. Appreciated.

    The coffee pot is not set.


    I loved this. Actually, it made me feel pretty good. (interprete that smug)

    I have three submissions out. In each case I already have one or two manuscripts ready should a publisher happen to make an offer and want a series.

    I certainly don't expect you to remember me, but we met in Indy.


  4. I agree with KC--good and timely! I just finished the first draft of my first manuscript, and I want to make this into a three-book series. :) I'm excited to get started on the second book!

    I have a question about Heartsong: How did you get your first contract with them? And what is the usual word count for those books?

    My manuscript is around 60,000 words-ish... So a little short at the moment.

    Thank you! :)



  5. Sharon, great post! This is where I'm at in my writing journey. My first book comes out in less than four months and the idea for the second book has already been approved by my editor.

    But what if I mess it up? It took me so long to get that first book written, how on earth can I ever do it again?

    But I'm praying. A LOT! And slowly but surely, it's getting there.

    Congratulations on your success--your books sound lovely!


  6. Thanks for your post, Shannon. I'm smack dab in the middle of Second Book Syndrome, so I read your tips with eagerness and am going to implement those I hadn't yet tried.

    What I find interesting is that even though I've read about SBS on authors' blogs during the past three years, I wasn't as prepared for this stage of my journey as I'd thought. Perhaps it's something one just has to experience in order to understand it, such as parenthood.

  7. Welcome to Seekerville, Shannon! Those are awesome tips even for plotters!

  8. Shannon, Congratulations on the release of your new book!! I thinks it's really interesting that "fear" is one of the items on your list and something you struggled with since that was the topic of my blog post this week.
    I remember the elation of those first sales, followed by awful fears that I wouldn't be able to pull it off. I'm facing similar thoughts now as I'm writing the first book for a different publisher.

    Thanks for the great and timely advice!

  9. Congratulations on working through that, Shannon! Wow. It does sound a bit daunting, but I love your suggestions.
    Sweet titles and covers make me want to 'pick them up'.
    Thanks Mary - I wasn't familiar with White Roses, though I've certainly heard of Shannon.

    Other than that... Happy FRIDAY!

  10. Great tips, Shannon! Prayer is always at the top of my To Do lists. :) Congratulations on your book release!

  11. Oooh, a second book sounds scary and exciting at the same time! Thanks for sharing your story with us. :-)

  12. Shannon, welcome to Seekerville! First, I love the covers...

    Gracious, sweet and inviting, but do I see LONG HAIR on White Pearls' hero????

    Whoa. ;)

    I will confess to no SBS because I had a butt-zillion books done before I got the call. Which only means it took me a VERY LONG TIME to write something worth buying.

    So glad your journey was shorter! Your advice is wonderful. Let go. Let God. Allow the Holy Spirit to work HIS magic through your heart and soul.

    Hey, Friday morning breakfast! Breakfast sandwiches, your choice, bacon, ham or sausage.... scrambled egg or fried.... cheese... bagel, croissant or English muffin.

    And I went back and changed your name because I had Shannon, then saw

    Call out your order. Home fries available at NO ADDITIONAL COST, FRIDAYS ONLY!!!!

    Diet sodas are re-stocked in the back wall fridge unit. And flavored creamers.

  13. I don't know if I could give "second book tips" since I'm still struggling with that one. I recently finished writing a mystery. Two days into editing, I realized I had to write a sequel.

    Getting past the block tips, I agree with what you said. Step back and away from the project. Do something else. Sometimes when I get blocked I walk away from the computer and go clean something. By the time I'm ready to sit down again, the block is usually gone.

    Sorry, I can't help with the "not pulling your hair out." I'm still taking advice on that one. I think just this week I lost about a third of my head of hair. But I'm learning, thanks to many here with their stellar advice.

    This post is going in my binder. Thank you so much for the peek into your writing journey!

  14. With Seekerville's warm welcome for me earlier this week still in my thoughts, I'm bringing Krispy
    Kreme donuts this morning--I know--store bought, but trust me, you guys don't want to eat anything I bake. Honestly. Take the KK's and run.
    Shannon--fellow panster. Thanks for the advice. I'm currently finishing up a book that I call the 'never ending book.' I didn't have a synopsis but the finished product felt like you described for your second book.
    Thanks for sharing your journey.
    I would love to read your book.

  15. Sharon,

    Congratulations on your success! Your stories sound great and I love the covers.

    Luckily, the stories I've written always seem to naturally develop into a series. I'll start writing the first and one of the secondary characters starts demanding their own story--Very demanding those secondary characters. :o)

    So glad it all came together for you, and God blessed you with your series.


  16. Shannon,

    Good tips.

    Your covers are beautiful. Best of luck with your series!

  17. Hi Shannon, how fun to see you here!

    Writing Book Two isn't what scares me, but as a pantser, writing a pre-book synopsis and then the book, scares the bejeebers out of me. Maybe I need to have all my book twos completed before I'm contracted.

  18. Shannon, Great tips. Love the covers and titles of the books. Congrats and thanks for joining us in Seekerville.

    Have a fun day.

  19. Hi, Shannon! This is a good reminder that I need to write that stuff for your blog!!! LOL! (Just a side note.)

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Good stuff! I am working on edits that I just got on Wednesday, and they are HUGE. MAJOR, MAJOR changes I'm working on, and she's only giving me 2 1/2 weeks. So when you said you got a month, I nearly freaked out! LOL!!! I would kiss the floor if my editor would give me a month! Last time she only gave me 10 days! I worked 14-hour days.

    But at the same time, I really love doing edits. It's stressful, but I love it. I only wish they would give me more time!

  20. Hi KC,
    Thanks for letting me know my ramblings helped you.

    I hope my tips help. I thought once I achieved my dream,it would be smooth sailing, but that's when the work begins.

    Hey Helen,
    I do remember you. We sat together at one of the meals. I think it was the first day of conference. I didn't see you again and wondered how your conference went.
    Smart lady, working ahead. I had several manuscripts done, but none of them were a series.

  21. Hi Amber,
    I went to the 2008 ACFW Conference in Minneapolis. I had an appointment with JoAnne. It was the last day of conference and my pitch was the late in the day. By then, she'd probably heard hundreds. I gave her my storyline and her eyes were glazed over. Then I told her about the setting and her eyes lit up. She asked for the full manuscript and I almost hyperventilated. Lesson learned, when you're pitching: share unique things about your book--not just the storyline. The HP word count is 50,000 words. They really prefer 45,000 so there's more room for revisions, but mine are usually just under 50. They recently started taking submissions only from agented authors, except at conference.

    Hey Patty,
    I was hoping someone would be here in the second book stage. Just chill. Keep praying. Do your best and your editors will make it work. Even if you mess up.

    You could be right. It's like a right of passage. But good news: I just got my content edit on book 1 in the rodeo series and I'm not stressed of overwhelmed. I guess I'm an old hand.

    Sometimes I wish I was a plotter. My critique partner is and she just plods along, doesn't have near the edits I get, and never gets stressed.

    I guess the fear comes back to haunt with changes. I'm not good with change anyway. I'm sure you'll do great and I'm honored that you read my post.

  22. Hey Debra,
    Hope my story doesn't scare any writers off. It really is worth it. I still love writing. Even more so since I know readers get to read them. It's really awesome to meet with readers at signings or speaking engagements and hear them discuss your characters like they're real people. The ultimate high.

    It sounds like you'll be fine with your to do list in the right order.

    I'm really trying to encourage that it's doable, not scare anybody off.

    Hey Ruthie,
    I had eight completed manuscripts, so it did take me a long time to write something worth publishing too. Is that butt-zillion? I love that number. But none of them were a series or could be worked into one. I wish y'all wouldn't mention food. I'm on an eternal diet. But I'll go for the coffee and I love flavored creamer. Hazlenut is my favorite.
    My husband would love for me to go clean something, but I'm holding out for a housekeeper. I'm honored to be in your binder. I have lots of Seeker posts in mine.
    Hi Lindi,
    Ooh, that could be a heroine name. A girl after my own heart. We'll just pants our way through it.

  23. I can't help with any second book ideas as I'm trying to complete my first! I've started countless stories, some of which I would like to finish someday.

    Congratulations to you Shannon, for finally "making it"!

    Please enter me in the contest



  24. Hey Kirsten,
    I think one of my problems was that when I started writing, I never read series. I tried one by a big author and absolutely loved the 1st book. The 2nd one was okay. The 3rd one I couldn't get into. I thought if I wrote a series, it might go that way, that each one would go downhill. Those thoughts didn't help when it came to writing the second book. Since then I've read series where I liked all of the books equally. You have to make the reader care about each new character. I hope I did that with mine.

    Several have mentioned my covers. My cover artist has been great. So great that White Doves was voted #1and White Roses #2 favorite contemporary cover by HP book club members.

    And Ruthie,
    Yep, the hero in book 3 has long hair. He's a bit of a rebel. And I love long hair on men. When I met my hubby in school, he had Welcome Back Kotter John Travolta hair. He's bald now and keeps his head shaved, but if a guy looks good, he'll look good without hair too. He looks great and his insides are even better.

    My awesome critter, who writes better than I do. Your day is coming. And you're working ahead, so you'll be fine. Can't wait to start critiquing your book 2 in your romance series.

    Hey Sandra,
    HP let me keep the title for White Roses, then I submitted ideas for two and three. I was glad when they picked the titles that were my faves. I don't think authors get to keep their titles very often with most publishers, so I was thrilled.

  25. Welcome to Seekerville, Shannon. Excellent tips! Congratulations on your books. And on surviving. :-) Talk about jumping in with both feet!

    Keli, wishing you all the best with that second book.

    Hope the revisions go well, Melanie.

    Mmm, the breakfast sandwiches smell delicious. Off to grab one. Thanks Ruthy!


  26. Hi Melanie,
    I guess we have to face facts. Editing will always be a part of the process, so we might as well embrace it. I don't get as long now. They were probably being nice for my first time. I think it's been 2 weeks ever since. But since I'm not overwhelmed anymore, it's enough, and I can still catch stuff in the page proofs.

    Here's another tip for the page proofs. Page proofs are the final draft after all editing has been done. You read through looking for anything you missed, or anything that doesn't make sense with the new changes. Page proofs make me so sleepy. My editor is turned on, so I'm not getting into the story, just looking for issues to fix.

  27. Hey Whitney,
    You're in the right place for just starting out. There is so much great info on this blog. I didn't discover it until I'd been writing for eight years, so you're ahead of me.

    Hey Janet,
    Thanks for the compliments. I'm honored.

    My content edit awaits, but I'll check back in later.

  28. SHANNON -- WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!! How fun to have you here and what a blog -- LOVE your tips, especially the prayer, which is KEY as we all know, not only to creativity, but to our own peace of mind as well.

    Fortunately for me, I had book 2 almost finished when I sold book 1, so I only had to scramble on book 3, but I SOOO relate with your experience.

    LOVE your titles!!


  29. Hi Shannon,

    Congrats on your trilogy. They look wonderful.

    Thanks for the tips. These are some of the fears that unpublished writers have - some of which block them from getting published, imho.

    So your words are very helpful!

    Would love a chance to win one of your books!

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  30. Woohoow! Shannon's at Seekerville! :D

    I am always fearful when I jump into a new project. Can I do it this time? Will all the pieces fit? Can I beat my deadline?

    Seems like fear is a constant companion of writers.

    Congrats on this series! And I hope you're hard at work on the next one!

  31. Thanks for all the great tips, Shannon!

    "Get past fear and writer's block" really resonates with me as I have been struggling with fear and writer's block has hit me like a ton of bricks in the past two days!

    Now that I know about your books, I can't wait to read them. Love the titles and covers!


  32. Shannon - the great thing about food here on Seekerville... it tastes FABULOUS but is fat and calorie free. Yum.

    I'm still unpubbed. My first completed MS is in contests now. Need to, ah, send out queries too... The sequel to it is rough drafted. Three others in the series are plotted out. And by plotted, I mean I have a paragraph of partial sentences somewhere of where it's going.

    I'm a total pantser.

    Working on another that could be a 3+ book series. And another one hit me upside the head this week. Good for a series. If I can pull it off. Dunno about that though.

    Butt-zillion. Think that's my new go to random number Ruthy. [Did you hear me squeal when I saw you on my FB page? No? I'm surprised...]

    That's what everyone's told me. Finish one. While it's querying, etc. write more. Then you have a butt-zillion in the queue when the call comes. And someone else suggested the series thing so... /shrug/ The first one was a series from the get-go but not a 5 book series until later...

    I had a point in there. I don't remember what it was. I keep my hair pulled up in a sloppy ponytail thing to keep from pulling it out. Because I lose lots of hair as it is. My dermatologist told me I'd keep the gray.


    It's a. the first day of Novel Track and b. the day my sister is coming over and bringing a friend and c. the last day before the house drives DH bonkers. Guess first on the list is cleaning till my back makes me stop. Then NovelTracking while I rest. Or maybe finding the Missy-fic I got this week and reading it...

    I've got a pasta bar set up when it's time for lunch. Going to bed before 11 means I'm not here to set out breakfast. But I'm sleeping more. It's a trade-off...

    Almost time to go mop [sort of um didn't turn on the steam mopper deal when I thought I did or it'd be done already...]

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  33. Welcome back to Seekerville, Shannon.

    Totally spot on advice.

    I try to encourage writers to always learn how fast they can write. Put themselves on their own deadlines so they have a realistic timeline for how fast they can write the bare bones, how fast they can revise. It pays off later.

  34. Hi Julie,
    I should have mentioned before now how nice it is to be back on Seekerville. I appreciate Mary for saying yes when I hit her up. After I finished all edits on that first series, I thought this experience could help someone and immediately thought of Seekerville.

    Hi Susan,
    Again I'll say, it's worth it. And with each book and each edit, it gets easier.

    Hi Erica,
    I look at it like this: I did it before--I can do it again. I'm an optimist, so that helps. My glass is always half full.

    Hi Mary,
    I love your profile pic. How funny. I thought writers' block was a myth--until it happened to me.

    The only problem is that the food here makes me want the real thing. I guess I'll go get some sunflower seeds.

    Oh, stop the presses. I never finished my tip on page proofs. Let's just set the record straight--I'm not a morning person. I don't finish thoughts well in the morning, especially with only 1 cup of coffee. I've had 2 now. My tip for staying awake while going over page proofs: sunflower seeds still in the shell. Hulling and eating them keeps me awake. And they're a healthy snack since writing is a sedentary profession.

    Now back to Carol,
    You're on the right track with contests and Novel Track. I learned so much from the great feedback I got from contest judges. Novel Track wasn't around when I was pre-pubbed, but I wish it had been.

    That's great advice too. Since I took all 8 months to write book 2, I ended up with 4 months for book 3. Thank you Lord, it wrote itself and I had the 1st draft finished in 2 months.

  35. I always love hearing about your story Shannon!

    For me (especially since I'm not under a deadline) is if I have a story idea, to flesh it out and run with it. Which is how I ended up with a book under editing and another one under construction, but I have plenty to play with! :)

    Great to learn more about you Shannon!


  36. Thanks for the encouraging post Shannon! It's good to know what to expect.

    I have a requested ms with an editor right now and am waiting with fingers crossed and daily prayers to hear from her. If its published it will be my first novel.

    Meanwhile, I am deep into writing a second ms that I hope she will accept as part of the series. My third ms for this series sits patiently waiting with a written synopsis and first chapter until I can write it. By doing this I am hoping to avoid the second and third book syndrome.

    Congratulations on making your dreams of publishing come true!

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  37. Hey Casey,
    You sound like a pantser after my own heart. I'll look forward to having you on my blog again--as a published author.

    Very good. Congratulations on doing things in the right order, unlike me.

  38. Wow! Scary! Congratulations! What a ride you've been on.

    I've been writing my story for three years and am now working on revisions for an interested agent. He didn't give me a deadline, but I gave myself an self-imposed deadline so I will push myself to work on it. My initial deadline was two months earlier, but my family was sick literally all winter.

    These are great tips you've shared with us today. Thank you! Please include me in the drawing!!! I'd love to read your book. How did I get the first one? Is it still available at Barbour?

    lr dot mullin at live dot com

  39. BTW, Shannon. I'm a huge rose fan!!! :D

  40. Hi Shannon,
    So great having you in Seekerville today. Your covers are dreamy!!! Thanks for providing sound advice about life after publication. Some how I always thought it was going to get easier after I got "The Call."

    Silly me! :)

  41. Okay, Shannon. I found it at Heartsong! I printed off the order form. I figure if I'm going to pay $5 for a book, plus $4 for shipping, I might as well get 5 more books for $16 more. :D

    I still want to be included in the drawing, though.

  42. I'm a plotter and am currently working on a new idea. Talked to hubby about the story, talked to Anna my cp, talked to eldest daughter, talked to youngest daughter, talked to hubby again, considering an email to dear friend Grammar Diva Darlene to "talk" to her. The story is forming, but it still has a long way to go. Every time I talk about it to someone, another light bulb goes on. I told hubby over lunch, why is it always so hard to flesh out a new suspense?

    Guess that's just part of the process.

  43. Sorry I'm late to the party Shannon, but I brought Dove chocolates? Does that make up for my tardiness?

    I am amazed at how you've seemed to find your writing stride. I love that you mentioned the importance of prayer. Our books--one, two, three, or fifty--come from stories He's given us to share.

  44. Ruth, didn't you know the mullet is back in? :D
    And I think I could have lived my whole life happily without hearing the word 'butt-zillion'!
    But home fries rock my world...

  45. And I loved these tips, by the way. Especially the 'pray' part at number one. I get so caught up in the WORK that I forget it's a GIFT. :)

  46. Hi Sharon:

    Happy April First!

    Thanks for the tips. Here is the plan I follow:

    1. Plot a very strong book.
    2. Follow the plot and write the book.
    3. Pray there are not too many revisions.

    There are two very big disadvantages of writing this way:

    1. You actually have to prove you have a strong book. It could take a long time and many revisions to get everything right in the storyline. This is time a pantser can spend writing. (But as the great editor in the sky says: ‘You can pay me now or you can pay me later'.)

    2. Writing to a plot is not entertaining. A true pantser is being entertained as the story appears on the computer screen. When you are in the ‘zone’ it’s almost like reading someone else’s book – only better.

    I love to pantser! I pantser as much as I possibly can within the confines of the plot. (Writer’s block tends to avoid writers who plot.)

    It would pay
    To pray
    To become
    A Plotter!

    Here’s an April First Oddity

    Men won’t ask directions or read the instructions. Women will

    Women don’t like to plot. Men will. .

    Of course, some men read directions and some women plot. But not enough for either to avoid the stereotype.

    In a way, men and women are just alike only in different ways!


    P.S. I’d really love to read your book but I can’t read Heartsong’s little print. :(
    Glory be the day when Heartsong goes digital! Can you imagine that huge Heartsong backlist instantly available with no deliver charge! That will be the day! Pray!

    P.P.S. "A book read before the official publication date is twice enjoyed."

    Do you have your copy of Debby Giusti’s “The Officer's Secret” a Love Inspired Suspense available today for the first time at eHarlequin? This is the first in the Miniseries: Military Investigations. I just love the concept!

  47. Shannon, Your tips are so true!
    Not thinking about it does help.
    I myself am something of a pantser/planner. I'm both! I plan the basic outline so I have a set direction, but I also make the outline loose and open to change and following a diffferent course. I plan to a certain extent but if one of the characters seems to be going a new direction that I had never thought of before, I take it and see where it leads. It's great to know that others write the way I do! An awesome post;)

  48. I so needed to read this. I fear I may be in that same situation whenever I get published, and I've often wondered how it will all go down.

    Encouraging post!

  49. Sorry I'm late to the party, but the best thing about cyber-food is that Lindi's Krispy Kreme donuts are still fresh and hot!

    I'm still working on my first novel, but I found plenty of good advice I could glean from your post, Shannon. I think the best thing was that as I write, maybe I should be thinking of a sequel or two in the back of my mind. Maybe a minor character's story?

    Got my entry for Fool for Love all set to send in - should be winging its way through cyber space within the hour!

  50. Shannon, yes... eight is considered in the butt-zillion range.

    Good girl! I misunderstood what you said, so this was really great experience for you. To kind of do a turn-around and 'think' series.

    And I promise no calories in the virtual food BUT.... I could not exist without both virtual and real coffee.

    Tucking in some extra hazelnut creamer for you.

  51. And Tina, that's awesome advice about the 'speed' writing.

    Distance runners tend to improve their distance running stamina by doing speed drills intermittently.

    Same holds true for writers. Great advice.

  52. Virginia, I'm glad the home fries made up for the butt-zillion! ;)

    I love 'ginormous' too.

    Great word. So fun.

  53. Sorry for the long gap. I had to work on my content edit for the new series and then my son came home from school. But now he has a friend over to occupy him.

    Congrats on having an agent look at your work and for setting your own deadline.

    I see you found the books on HP. Ordering in bulk is a great way to do it, plus you'll have more books to read. White Roses is also on Amazon and White Doves is on Amazon and probably will be at in a few months.

    I thought I'd travel and shop and write only when I wanted to. Boy did I have a lot to learn. I plot in my head, just not so much on paper. Until now.

    I had Hershey's Kisses at all my signings until White Doves came out, then I got Dove. Oh it's so much better. But Kisses are so romancy.
    Lorna is my crit partner. The plotter. When her work gets to us critters, there's not much to do.

    Good news about the mullet. I always kind of liked it except in the extreme (Billy Ray Cyrus). So short in the front, so so long in the back and totally unblended. It really bothered this ex-hairdresser.

    Hi Vince,
    I'm not sure I really want to be a plotter. Pantsing is so much fun. You nailed it when you said, it's almost like writing someone elses' book. I love when all the pieces of the puzzle come together. And I go, oh I didn't know that.

  54. Vince,
    Forgot to mention, your stuff about the differences in men and women reminded me of a class I taught recently on tips to help a man write a female character and a woman writing a male character. We really are so very different. And I think God's showing off his sense of humor by making us so different, yet expecting us to live together until death do us part.

    I learn my characters want to go in a different direction all the time. I pretty much go along for the ride.

    Take Tina's advice and see how fast you can write now. And even if you get overwhelmed, it's worth it.

    Having a sequel in mind is great. With the series I'm working on now, I wrote the first book a long time ago. After White Roses. By then, I'd heard that most publishers wanted series, so I planned it with three friends in the first rodeo book. Which makes it much easier. With White Roses, the friends and family were already married and one couple got married in the book. I had to come up with friends or acquaintances that weren't even in the book. The thing with HP, I don't think the books have to be connected, but they want three books, so they can do the three in ones later. But I wanted the books to be related because I really loved the setting for White Roses. That's a lot of rambling, but I finally got around to my point.

  55. Ruthie,
    It was a good experience for me. Just stressful at the time. But I'm chilled now. I've even thought of those other six books and tried to figure a way to make some of them a series. They're so bad, I'd just have to start over, but I like some of the characters and storylines. Maybe someday.

  56. Hey, Vince! Thanks for the plug!


    (Shhh! The check will arrive in the mail.)


  57. By the way, I got a really sweet e-mail from my brilliant content editor this morning. She read this post and wanted to encourage me since I'm tackling another content edit at the moment. I just love working with a Christian company.

  58. Shannon...thanks for sharing your writing journey:) Thanks for the very helpful tips on getting past fear and writer's block!

    I would love to read one of your books...please enter my name in the hat:)

    lornafaith at gmail dot com

  59. Thanks for sharing, Shannon. I always enjoy reading authors' experiences with their first books, and I like your tips you listed! No need to include me in the drawing (I have the book!). Blessings, Patti Jo :)

  60. Hi Shannon:

    I also think women are better at names and spelling. : )

    Your course sounds like something I’d like to take. Is it offered online?


  61. Shannon, I'm sorry I'm late! What a great post! My second book was so hard for me, too.

    Love your advice! :)

  62. TWENTY ruthy
    It really calmed those sophomore nerves to have PLENTY of time to write TWENTY books before I got published.


  63. As someone who is writing a second book in a series, first time under contract, I found your advice very helpful.


  64. Great post Shannon. It's encouraging to hear that your editors don't expect new authors to nail it the first go round.

    I'm a plotzer and what works for me is having a general big picture synopsis to start with. I then outline particular scenes the night before I write them so that my creative side has a chance to work on it while I sleep. The next day, I write!


  65. Hi Lorna,
    Two Lornas. Love your last name. I hope you never face writers' block, but if you do, hope my tips help.

    Hi Cat Mom,
    Thanks for buying the book. I really hope you ejnoy it.

    Hi Vince,
    The class will actually be online, but I'm not sure when. I was supposed to work on that this month, but deadlines got moved up. I'm planning to have several online classes. When I get them up, I'll post an announcement on Facebook and Twitter.

    Hey Missy,
    Glad to know I'm not the only one.

    Whoa! Are they publishable?

    Hi Jean,
    I'm so glad. Happy writing! And congrats on your contract!

    Hi Preslaysa,
    I've often heard and said, there's no right or wrong way to write. We all have to find the technique that works for us. Sounds like you've got yours pegged.

  66. After the first one sold I then sold ten of them. And I wouldn't mind selling a few more. It could happen.

  67. That's awesome Mary. My six aren't publishable. I'd have to just start over.

  68. I love the ideas, and how each one starts with "pray". The book does need to start with God, or what is the point? Thanks for sharing.


  69. Hi Jaimn,
    Everthing goes better when I tackle it with prayer.