Friday, August 16, 2013

Fabulous Friday Feature-Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Today I welcome 
Shannon Taylor Vannatter,
who has witnessed God's blessings through family and friends

Enter to win Shannon's new release,
Rodeo Regrets
Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.

God Gave Me A Little Help From My Friends

For fifteen years I had a story in my head. In the summer of 1999, I realized this story was much more; it was a book. I purchased a computer and began writing my first manuscript.

In 2004, six unpublished books later, I sank into a writing crossroad. Two hundred rejection letters littered my desk. I thought I had done everything right—after all, I belonged to two local writing groups and did everything in my power to attend local conferences and workshops. My brain was on overload from learning, but I wasn’t learning anything specific to my genre.

I googled “Christian Romance Writers Conference” and stumbled upon the American Christian Romance Writers. What a dream. The conference was held in Denver, Colorado that year and sounded like a writer’s heaven. Unfortunately my stay-at-home mom life and budget didn’t agree.

Early the next year, my grandmother left all her grandchildren a savings bond. The very amount needed to pay for a conference registration. I checked on-line for the date of the next conference. By then the name had changed to the American Christian Fiction Writers and would be held in Nashville, Tennessee. Only six hours away! Fantastic. I only needed enough money for gas, food, and lodging.

I registered, chose my editor and agent appointments, and made travel plans. I even got an appointment with Tracy Peterson, the acquisition editor for Heartsong Presents, where I’d already sent my book proposal. Since I hadn’t heard whether my book was accepted, I figured I could just sell the book to Tracy in person. No biggie.

A month before conference, I received a rejection letter from Heartsong Presents. I nose-dived into anguish for two days, then picked myself up, and decided I would just have to convince Tracy in person.

That September I walked into the beautiful hotel lobby and saw her, Tracy Peterson. I didn’t know what to say. Feeling way out of my league the next morning, I found an empty table to sit at for breakfast. Friendly writers soon filled the empty seats around me. I met kind people like Margaret Daley.

After the first workshop session, I realized I barely knew the basics about writing. My brain tried to process all the new information and keep up with everything I’d learned. By my appointment time with Tracy, I was on overload.

I recapped my story for her and asking why she’d rejected it. She told me there wasn’t enough conflict and then brainstormed with me how to fix it. She even agreed to take another look after the changes.

After we got home, I upped the conflict in my book and sent it off, but it was rejected again. I realize now, my writing wasn’t ready to be published.

In 2006, I sat down at an empty breakfast table at the conference in Dallas. A lovely lady approached me and asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I said no. She offered her hand and said, “Hi, I’m LeNora Worth.” My jaw hit the floor. Lenora is my favorite Love Inspired author. I’d read countless books of hers.

In 2008, I joined ACFW, took advantage of joining a critique group, and trolled the course archives and learned the conference would be in Minneapolis that year. Way too far and expensive for me, but I heard about the local zone group meeting in Little Rock. I attended the meeting twice that summer and met Linda Fulkerson. A few months later, out of the blue, she e-mailed asking if I wanted a ride to Minneapolis.

A few weeks later, my critique partner who happened to live near Minneapolis e-mailed asking if I wanted to stay at her house and ride back and forth to the conference with her. So, I had a ride and a place to stay, but still no funds for the conference. A few weeks later, God blessed by sending money out of nowhere.

I met two of my critique partners, Brenda Anderson and Lorna Seilstad, at the confernce and made other close friends that year. For the first time, I attended the early bird session and took Marjorie Lawson’s EDITs class. The scales fell from my eyes showing me what went in a book and what didn’t. That class was the culmination of all the others and brought my writing to a publishable level.

By then, I’d added conflict to my story and scheduled a meeting with JoAnne Simmons, acquisition editor at Heartsong Presents. I’ll never forget the moment her eyes lit up over my story. She requested the full. I went home, used the techniques I’d learned in the EDITs class, and sent the manuscript to JoAnne. In January, I received an offer.

Without ACFW, it’s highly possible I wouldn’t be published. And without God providing the means, I never would have gone to the first conference or the pivotal one where I received the request for a full.

Lately, things have been coming full circle. A few years ago, I taught at ACFW. This month, my seventh book, Rodeo Regrets released and two more are in progress.

That story in my head since I was fifteen, it releases in November. 

Rodeo Regrets:
Natalie once dreamed of finding true love. Then Lane Gray broke her heart. After running wild to fill the emptiness inside her, she heads back to her hometown to heal. But when she sees the cowboy she once loved so much, she finds him hard to resist.
Lane Gray is a changed man. The handsome cowboy wants Natalie's forgiveness-and more. Natalie has made plenty of mistakes in her life, but so has Lane. Could falling for each other again be the worst one yet? Or the path to redemption?

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. 

To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Shannon Taylor Vannatter's book: "Rodeo Regrets":
leave a comment (and email address)
and become a follower of this site if you aren't already.

Good news...International readers may also enter!
Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Shannon, for Joining us This Weekend!

Friend, isn't it fun to look back at the times God has blessed us by arranging the very gift we wanted?  What blessing has God given you?


bonton said...

So enjoyed your interview, Shannon! I am not a writer, but think it helps us, as readers, to appreciate books more fully when we understand, not only the steps involved in writing a book, but the preparation required beforehand, & also - the steps to publication. Thanks for letting the Lord use your talent to bless us, your readers.

In addition to the blessing of having books written by Christian writers - God has blessed me by providing for my needs since retiring in 2007. After moving back to my hometown, to be near aging family members, I had planned to continue working (for financial reasons) - even though I doubted that I was physically able to continue doing so. The right job never came along, & it has been a financial struggle without the added income - but He has provided, & I have had the time to enjoy many small pleasures that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise, & none of the pressures of trying to hold down a job when I didn't feel physically able to.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks for sharing. How wonderful that God has supplied your need without having you find employment at a time when you physically didn't feel able. His mercies are good. :)

Cindy Q said...

Oh my goodness! My heart was racing as I read this. I almost skipped over words to see what was coming up next. Ha.

God is proving right now, we have had a lot of unexpected medical expenses and He has provided for them. Meanwhile, I'm planning a surprise party to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I have so much to do and all the medical appointments...I trust He will bring everything together for the party too.


Mary Vee Writer said...

Cindy, that is awesome news. Not about the unexpected expenses or the medical needs, of course, but how God has provided for you. We truly have an awesome God.

Unknown said...

Shannon, I really enjoyed your post. God has truly blessed your writing. There have been times through my illness, I didn't have the money to pay bills and would receive money from someone that I would never have thought would do anything for me. God works in mysterious ways and I'm thankful He does. Thank you for sharing, Shannon. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thank you!!
Barbara Thompson

I'm a follower!!

squiresj said...

I would love to win and review this. Thank God for your special gift. May his anointing be on all the books you write. jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Barbara!
Imagine, receiving money from someone you didn't expect, what a God send. Thanks so much for sharing this blessing Barbara.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Welcome Jane!
Thank you for your kind words for Shannon :) It was so nice chatting with you today. Blessings on you as well.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Mary, I forgot to let you know I'd be gone most of the day. It's great to see all the comments. Sorry I was a no show until now.

Awesome Bonnie! If we just follow his will, he'll take care of us. But it's so hard not to try to do it all yourself.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Cindy, it was a long, hard, frustrating road. But I learned much in the process. We've had medical expenses this year too. They can be so overwhelming, but He provided for ours too. It's amazing how He takes care of us.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Barbara, sometimes the money just seems to fall from the sky. God is so good.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Thanks Jane. I'll take all the blessings I can get.

Mary Vee Writer said...

No problem, Shannon, We saved your seat until you could arrive. We're so happy you're here!

Lane Hill House said...

Loved your life walking with Jesus story!! "Do you trust Me?" How wonderfully you stepped out. I would love to find out how Natalie and Lane's story turns out as they follow Him too. Blessings and such a great post! I received an e-mail notice bringing me here to read your post. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Mary Vee Writer said...

Welcome Lane, we are so happy you joined our chat today! It has been a great time of sharing, that is certain.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Lane,
Glad you could join us. Cool name. Makes me think of a certain hero.

Lane Hill House said...

:D Hope I win to read their story!! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Lane Hill House said...

So awesome never to give up a dream! Hope I win a copy. Beautiful post. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

Anonymous said...

Hey, Shannon. I am so thankful GOD will give us second chances no matter how we fail. And, HE loves so much, that we get so many more than two. I am so glad we get second chances. Mine turned out to be wonderful. And, I could certainly use another Rodeo book. Thanks for this give-away. And, GOD bless the both of you. Please putt my name in the drawing. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Mary Vee Writer said...

Kathleen, Thanks so much for clarifying your name. Don't forget to become a follower to be entered, if you haven't, then you will be entered. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thank you Maxie!
I look forward to each of your visits. This Rodeo book certain does sound good!

You are definitely entered:) Looking forward to your next visit.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for sharing your journey to publication, Shannon. It gives a lot of us hope!

Please throw my name in the hat if it's not too late!

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Mary Vee Writer said...

Yeah! You joined us tonight. Of course it isn't too late. You are definitely entered. Loved chatting with you tonight. :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I see you've become a follower, Kathleen! Thank you! Looking forward to seeing you again. AND you are definitely entered in the book drawing.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Maxie,
I've had a few second chances myself. God is good.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Susan,
I got a lot of hard knocks I didn't even get into. It just takes time, learning, and tweaking.

Anonymous said...

Love to win Shannon's book! She is a great writer! Shelia Hall