Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Welcome Shawna K. Williams, author of "No Other"; giveaway included!
Shawna has graciously agreed to give away a pdf copy of her book, along with one of her unique, handmade bracelets.
Here's a short bio on our guest, Shawna K. Williams:
Shawna K. Williams is an inspirational novelist who loves telling a story through flawed characters - the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century. However, being a fan of other genres, including Science Fiction and Suspense, she has a few surprises planned for future works.
When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She's also an avid reader, book reviewer, blogger and jewelry designer.
How did you come to be a writer?
I hadn’t intended to pursue a career as a writer. I was actually quite content being a stay at home-schooling mom. About eight years ago I had a really interesting dream. Initially I began to write out a story based on the dream just to satisfy my own need to fit it all together. However, I eventually decided that if I was going to put that much effort into it, I might as well run with the story and see what I could do. This made me explore every aspect of the characters and their story deeper, and somewhere along the way writing became a passion.
How long have you been writing and when was your first book published?
I’ve toyed with writing off and on for eight years, but my serious efforts didn’t start until about three years ago. I had my first short story published two years ago. It was followed by two more. No Other was accepted for publication just over a year ago, and it released in May 2010. It was my first book. My second book, In All Things, which is a sequel to No Other, and also based on that dream, will release in November 2010. Orphaned Hearts releases in December, so it’s been a busy year.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Well, this past year I haven’t had much. The kids and I were talking just last night actually, and I’d like to take more time to go hiking, or rock hounding, and just enjoy the beautiful area in which we live.
And, of course, I love to read.
Tell us how you come up with characters.
The main characters in No Other were given to me. They were part of that dream, and I even knew their names from it. Other characters just seemed to evolve naturally into the story.
With Orphaned Hearts, I had a story concept, and the characters were just there. As the story unfolded they took on depth. I did, and do, a lot of writing outside of my stories to get a better understanding of character backgrounds. I really feel like this is essential to creating consistent, believable characters.
What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
Find a great critique partner, who understands your writing style and will be lovingly honest with you. I may take a little while, but the support and growth you’ll receive, and give in return, are invaluable (I’m talkin’ about you, Kat!)
What is a typical writing day like for you?
Oh boy! Well, currently I’m working on last minute tweaks with one book about to release, and completing another, and promoting still another. So I often don’t get to bed until 4-5am, sometimes later. I don’t intend for this to be a permanent lifestyle. We homeschool, and my children are older, and also a good portion of their schooling is done through computer classrooms. So they start their day before me. I try to get about five hours of sleep so I can function. Then the daytime is devoted to school and family. If we’re at home all day I will take care of promotion stuff since it’s something I can work on, leave, and come back to without having to shift to the creative side of my brain. Evenings, if we’re all at home we often watch something on tv as a family. We used to play more games, but not recently. We need to get back in the habit. Two of my kids are teens, so between their youth group and friends from our homeschool group they stay busy. Once everyone is in bed I shift into writing gear.
Where do you write?
Well, I used to write in this little Victorian looking room we dubbed, “The reading room.” But then I got a new computer, and for some reason my wireless connection doesn’t hold up from the other end of the house. Since my current project is a historical, I do a lot of impromptu research, so I need internet access. I’ve tried boosters with little luck. So, lately I’ve been writing from the sofa in my bedroom. I prefer the reading room though.
Tell us about your latest book.
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.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I’m thrilled to have No Other and In All Things out of me and into words! I intend to keep writing, but those two stories and the characters have been with me for so long, and I’m really happy to finally be able to share them.
My kiddos are my greatest source of pride though. In a few months my baby will turn thirteen, and then I’ll have three teenagers. It’s hard to believe. They’re fantastic kids and I’m so fortunate to be their mom.
Where do you get ideas for stories?
A mixture of things. I’ve talked a lot about the dream that No Other and In All Things were based on. I recently wrote an outline for another story based on a dream. Orphaned Hearts started with me thinking about my granddad. I somehowwondered into the idea about a man, who had been an orphan, and not been adopted because of a physical handicap, trying to find a home for an orphan who also had a physical handicap.
I have a great idea that is just a title at the moment, “Memoirs of a GhostTown” that I’d like to make it into a collections of stories that chronicle the events in the lifespan of a town. That idea came to me while driving through a near deserted town.
It’s hard to say what exactly will spring forth an idea. I guess it mostly stems from an active imagination.
How long does it normally take you to write a book?
Six months seems to be a good number for me. I have periods where I can’t seem to focus, and other times where things flow fast and furious. In All Things was a very difficult write, and I had more than a few freak out moments, wondering if I could pull it together. The book is long, right at 100,000 words, and the last 30,000 all came out within a month -- quite easily too because everything finally came into focus.
Favorite scripture and/or quote:
Several, but at the moment Romans 8:28 is in the forefront of my mind.
Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts do you normally do for each novel? Do you have a certain editing procedure that you follow?
Four drafts seems to be a good number for me. I don’t complete them though. About the time I get two thirds done I feel like I’ve completely lost direction, and I’ll go back and find where I started to lose my direction. Also, the first drafts are also very much about getting to know my characters. By the time I’m two-thirds done the third go around, I seem to understand them and their journey. I can actually write quite fast at that point.
I kind of have a feeling though that each story will be different. The one I’m currently working on was originally a short story. Granted, long for a short story, 15,000 words. I’m finding that the writing is going quite smooth, and I think it’s because the story is cemented in my mind, and I know the characters‘ internal struggles. I’m enjoying that I get to expand on them in this book.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
I wrote "No Other" because I wanted to tell an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other. I hope readers come away with a better understanding of Grace. And after reading In All Things, I hope readers reflect on God’s purpose in their lives, even during dark times.
In All Things is a fictional story, but I have a true one I’ll share at a later date about my grandparents,. It’s totally different in events, but similar in theme. I’m saving it for my interviews for In All Things and Orphaned Hearts because, though these two fictional stories are not related, my grandparents’ story relates to them both.
How can readers get in contact with you? (email; website; blog; etc.)
Thanks so much for letting us get to know you better, Shawna! May God continue to bless you!
Now, here is my review of "No Other". If you would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a comment WITH your email address. Thanks!
Shawna has written a remarkable story with “No Other”! I had a bit of a hard time getting into the book at first. Not sure why, just did. Once I got into it, I didn’t want to stop! The characters were so real. I could feel their emotions.
Jakob is trying to come to terms with his parents being held by the Germans during WWII. While they were being held he had to stay home and take care of his siblings. His older brother Joe was away fighting in the war. When the war is over, and his family is back together Jakob decides it’s time to go back to school and finish up high school. Jakob is a Christian young man trying to live a godly life.
Meri Parker is a 22 year old teacher in the same Texas town Jakob lives in. In fact they both grew up there and were friends “way back when”. When Jakob starts back to school he is floored to see Meri Parker as his teacher. I think they see a “spark” when they meet and it later grows. Due to the teacher/student relationship and also because they are so totally opposites in the material world, a relationship is impossible. They decide to sneak around to see each other after discovering they have feelings for one another.
This book has romance and a theme of forgiveness running all through it. Jakob has to learn to forgive the events of the past; Meri needs to forgive her parents for being so overbearing; and due to something that happens, Meri and Jakob must learn to forgive themselves.
Like I said at the beginning, once I got past the first few pages, I was hooked! I believe Shawna has written a wonderful book about forgiveness and love. I would encourage you to get a copy and read for yourself! I believe you will be blessed!
Remember, leave a comment with your email address to have a chance at winning a pdf copy of "No Other", along with a beautiful, handmade bracelet from Shawna! Good luck and God bless!