Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She is represented by Les Stobbe, is a member of the ACFW, a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild writing course, an active blogger, and a former homeschooling mom. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance. She is a bird-watcher, loves the ocean, roller coasters, ice cream, her family and her Chihuahua, who faithfully sits by her side every day when she writes.
Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara) and is a columnist for Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.
Please tell the readers about your novel
Song of the Meadowlark is a Contemporary Inspirational Romance full of hope, forgiveness, and second chances at life and love set in South Georgia on a ranch with an ornery cowboy.
Here is Song of the Meadowlark’s synopsis: When trusting others only leads to pain and rejection, and loving ends only in loss, what will it take to restore hope again? Shunned by the uncovered truth about her missing husband’s secret life, Cora Buchanan sets out on a road trip for home to mend her broken relationship with her parents. When her car breaks down, she’s stranded in a small Georgia town. While staying at the struggling Southern Hope Ranch, she meets little Susie O’Reilly, who unexpectedly fills a void in Cora’s heart. But Rex, Susie’s rugged cowboy father who lost his wife a year earlier, seems to go out of his way to either confront or avoid Cora. It doesn’t help her comfort level that the news continues to report missing and murdered women in the area. Cora has no idea just how close to home the crimes will hit…or how much the sweet sound of the meadowlark’s song at the ranch will impact her future.
Sneak peek at the first chapter!
Oh, that’s exciting I love sneak peeks, thanks Sherri.
Who or what was your inspiration behind the story.
I had always wanted to write a cowboy story but wasn’t sure I could do it because I’m afraid of horses. I thought it might be kind of foreign to me and that my readers would pick up on it. But after I finished To Dance Once More, Song of the Meadowlark kept knocking at my mind’s door. I wrote this book with the theme of forgiveness and starting over because those are two topics I know all too well. The story deals with
characters who have lost loved ones and who have had to learn to grieve and move
on. I’ve lost both my parents and I suppose the emotions of the characters
flowed naturally out of my experiences. Maybe I wrote it as a personal way of
dealing with the losses and healing from them.
How did you decide on the setting? Did you need to do research?
I originally set Song of the Meadowlark in Wyoming because that’s where I thought all cowboy books had to be set. But it didn’t flow well because I’ve never been out west. I don't know the plants or the smells or the weather. I changed the setting to South Georgia and the rest is history. I did do quite a bit of research on ranches and horses, cowboy attire, etc.
How long did it take to write the book, including preliminary work?
I started this book in 1997 if my memory serves me correctly. It was not published until 2012. Yes, it took that many years to get it right. Of course, many of those years were spent querying publishers, taking courses, learning the craft, improving the manuscript and my proposal technique before publication happened.
I can certainly relate to the wait. It does take a while to learn the craft of writing and to get a publisher to take notice. You certainly persevered. I know the readers are glad!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the readers about your books, or you personally?
I've been married for twenty-five years. In those twenty-five years, we’ve seen many friends experience failed marriages due to infidelity. We have two children who we raised to value their purity and to save it for the spouse God has for them. And more recently I’ve become aware of the sex trafficking industry that plagues our world. These young people are trapped and do not have a choice in keeping their purity. All of these things combined, plus knowing the Lord commands us to value our purity and to stay faithful to the one we marry, makes me passionate about doing whatever I can do to help others see the value in having sexual integrity whether they are single or married. Right now, writing Christian Romance and blogging on marriage is one way I accomplish that mission.
What genre is you favorite to write and why?
I love to write Romance! Both Historical and Contemporary. I love to make people feel “googly” inside. I think it’s awesome to be able to slip away in your mind for a bit and escape from one’s daily life. I write inspirational romance specifically because I want people to know the message God has placed on my heart.
Did you start out with a different plot or did the story stay the same the whole time you were creating it?
Song of the Meadowlark changed drastically as I was writing it. It did not start out with any suspense in it at all. After I finished the initial story, I knew it lacked what it takes to keep a reader intrigued. So I wrote and rewrote until the plot thickened and I arrived at what is now published. One of the scenes in it actually originally came from a different manuscript, one that is still unpublished.
I'm sure many readers are interested in learning more about you. Do you have a homepage where they can do so?
Thanks Sherri for being on my blog this week and sharing the first chapter of your novel with us.
I'm very excited to interview Julie Bates. She is a published author of non-fiction. Juli scribes articles for the Asheboro-Courier Tribune, a daily newspaper in Asheboro, NC. She also writes stories for Carolina Country. Alone with her freelance articles Juli is working on a wonderful story of fiction. She is a talented writer who will soon find a home for her novel.
Juli will you tell the readers a little about yourself.
Let's see. I have been married a while and have a teenage son who is learning to drive (a car that is. Driving mom crazy is ongoing). I have always had a hyperactive imagination and have story fragments that date back to
my early teens (note those will NEVER, EVER be published except in my nightmares). That being said, I have published articles on and off in between working as a teacher and raising aforementioned child whose imagination is about as wild as mine. I enjoy working with the adult special needs class at church and discussing various books with my church book group. My mom always said I had an inquiring mind. Although she may have cringed at some of my book choices, she never censored me. I have always loved a good story regardless of genre. I enjoy reading mysteries, fantasy novels, and nonfiction that is well written. I also enjoy Christian literature that makes me think.
What is the title of one of your articles and where is it published?
My article is titled "Pausing at Pisgah" and appears in the April issue of Asheboro Magazine.
Julie when you’re not-writing non-fiction, what genre do you write?
My first love is mysteries. Since I enjoy history as well. I have just finished a historical mystery set during the American Revolution. Researching this book has been fascinating. I wanted to explore the life of an everyday person, a tavern keeper trying to survive during this time. I hope others enjoy reading her story as much as I did writing it!
I also enjoy the paranormal. Since I have volunteered at the NC zoo, I became a fan of the Red wolves and wolves in general. They are intelligent and fascinating creatures. This morphed into an interest in werewolves (No, I really cannot explain why.) I also love stories with elves and dragons among other creatures featured in folklore. (Ok, perhaps I read a little too much as a child under the covers with a flashlight!)
I try to write stories like I would like to read, stories that have believable characters with dreams, hopes, flaws and vulnerabilities. People that even when life throws them for a loop, they persevere with faith, humor and sheer stubbornness. They do not give up and they would sacrifice everything for those they love.
I know your aspirations are to become published in fiction writing. Please tell the readers about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
My novel is titled, Cry of the Innocent, and is the first in a series set during the American Revolution. This is a mystery featuring Faith Clarke, a recently widowed tavern keeper in Colonial Williamsburg. Faith is struggling to keep the inn afloat while raising her son. When a man is found murdered in her tavern, she becomes the prime suspect. Since murderers were punished by hanging, she has a lot to fear. Permeating the book is the issue of slavery. Faith owns two slaves given to her and her late husband as a wedding gift. Faith was raised to believe slavery is evil and she is very conflicted. In order to solve the murder Faith is forced to delve into the dirty business of owning people. She also is being pushed to choose side in the upcoming conflict with England.
The inspiration from this is hard to trace. I have always enjoyed reading history and the true stories to be found in amongst the dates and maps. I once took a trip with my husband to Colonial Williamsburg and I mentioned the idea for a mystery set there during the American Revolution. He looked at me and said, "That is a story I would like to read." It wasn't long after that I began Faith Clarke's creation, although there was a stretch where the story stayed stuck on a disk drive when I was immersed in being a wife, mom and working woman. Now I've learned that I have to have a little time for myself or life can become overwhelming.
That's so true Juli, we all need to have a little time to ourselves to be creative. Especially if we enjoy writing. There's always a story or article that must come out! What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I look for a well written story with characters I can identify with whose actions I can accept are believable even if a bit wacky. I love stories where the descriptions are so vivid I become lost entirely in the author's world. I love characters who have a sense of humor and aren't afraid to take risks especially for those they love.
Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do?
I love to draw and paint. I take a lot of inspiration from nature, but I have completed portraits of family members as well. I also knit and garden.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the readers about your books or about you personally?
Most people who have looked at my work say it is humorous, regardless of genre and that probably has to do with my personality rather than any set plan to be funny. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are remarkably tolerant and supportive. My dream is to be a professional writer. It gives me great joy to create something others enjoy. There are a lot of tragedies in the world; I would like to encourage some smiles and a chance to escape into another world, at least briefly.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview and giving everyone insight into your non-fiction work.
I know Cry of the Innocent I know will be a wonderful novel. (I must admit Juli’s a member of my local writing group) This lady has talent. Her novel will find a published home soon, for all of us to enjoy.
You can visit Juli at: www.juliebates/weebly.com.
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. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.
Please tell the readers about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
When Harlequin bought the Heartsong Presents line, my agent contacted the new editor to tell her about me. The editor just happened to have read the 2nd book in my Texas rodeo series, Rodeo Hero and liked it. She asked my agent if I had anything similar. I’d completed all three books in the series by then and given everybody a happily ever after.
Except for the rodeo slut. She was a secondary character in the first three books of the series. She flirted with every hero I created, got pregnant (by another side character—not a hero :), gave up her baby, and skipped town two books ago. I decided to figure out what made her the person she was and what it would take to change her. The editor liked the idea and I ended up with three more books to continue the series.
Here’s the back cover blurb:
NATALIE WENTWORTH'S PAST IS ABOUT TO CATCH UP WITH HER
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?
Many main characters are a reflection of the author or somebody the author knows. Are there any tidbits that you've put into you characters that mimic people around you?
All of my heroes have my husband’s coloring because that’s what I’m attracted to. Seven books with dark haired heroes and green eyes. My heroines can be brunette, blond, or redheads, but not my heroes. I keep worrying my editor will ask me for something different. I don’t think I could write a blond hero.
How did you decide on the setting? Did you need to do research?
The first book in the series required a year round indoor rodeo. I found the Fort Worth Stockyards and Cowtown Coliseum. I also needed a small town for my hero’s horse ranch. I found Aubrey, which just happens to be known as Horse Country USA.
We have family in the San Antonio area, so we visited the Stockyards and Aubrey for research as a stop sort of on the way. We’ve visited two more times since for book signings. Aubrey is a lot like the small town I live in and the people there have embraced me as one of their own.
The restaurant where all my characters eat, Moms on Main carries my books in their gift shop, hosts my signings, and feeds us well when we’re there.
Though each book continues the series, each book stands alone and shows a different aspect of the area. You get the whole story if you read them in order. But you can start anywhere without missing anything.
Shannon, that’s a great way to research, it sounds better than just getting information from the Internet or word-of-mouth. Tell us how it took to write the book, including preliminary work?
Four months total. Two and a half months for the first draft. Then two weeks to let it rest. And a month to edit.
What was the hardest part to write this novel?
Natalie’s character. I’ve never been a rodeo slut, so it was hard to get into her mindset and figure out what made her tick.
How did you come up with the title?
Natalie, the heroine has been very promiscuous past with cowboys, so she has a lot of rodeo regrets.
I'm sure many readers are interested in learning more about you. Do you have a homepage where they can do so?
My website is shannonvannatter.com. I also have a blog with weekly book giveaways where I host Christian authors sharing their real life and character love stories:
hanks Shannon for being on my blog this week I enjoyed having you.
I know readers would love to read the novel. Shannon has graciously offered to give one lucky winner a copy.
Leave a comment and tell us why you’d like to read Rodeo Regrets and a random name will be drawn.
This week it's my pleasure to have Gail Pallotta on my blog. Along with learning a bit about this wonderful author and her novels is a chance to win an eBook. On Friday a name will be drawn for the comments and Gail will send the winner a copy of Stopped Cold.
Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and
bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, shewon Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. Sweet Freedom with aSlice of Peach Cobbler, a new anthology, includes her short story, “Stitches in Love.” Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles.blogspot.com, at her blog, http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com, and on her Web Site,http://www.gailpallotta.com.
Gail please tell the readers about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration?
Stopped Cold is a teen mystery with suspense and first love. It’s set in a fictitious town in the North Carolina Mountains. But things aren’t what they seem in Mistville. Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.
Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.
Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.
What was my inspiration? I’d almost say I was nudged to write the book. The theme for it, “We don’t have to be number one for God to love us,” rattled around in my head quite a while. Too many times my path crossed with those who suffered because they weren’t able to live up to always being number one. Whether the pressure came from within, peers, siblings or parents, the need to be “better than everyone else” rather than “the best one could be” often hurt and sometimes led to destruction.
I wanted the book to be fun, and I most enjoyed Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys mysteries as a youngster. I made the heroine, hero and their friend amateur sleuths reminiscent of them.
Many main characters are a reflection of the author or somebody the author knows. Are there any tidbits that you’ve put into your characters that mimic people around you?
I wouldn’t say the main character, Margaret, mimics myself of anyone I know, but she has a swimmer’s personality. I know the type well, because I am one, and my daughter swam year-around from age nine through her sophomore year in college. Margaret likes competing against the clock and works hard to improve her times. She’s loyal to her teammates and shares a close-knit bond with them.
How did you decide on the setting? Did you do research?
I wanted the setting to be a place I knew well, because I was already putting quite a bit of time into researching steroids. I grew up at the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains and lived in that area for four years as a young adult. However, I did some research to double-check my memory on a few things, such as the seasons for certain types of foliage.
Many authors say the novel has a voice all its own. Did the plot change once your characters started forming the story?
Yes. Originally Margaret and Jimmy were just friends. As the book progressed, they established a first love relationship. Emily’s character changed too. At first, she was just someone Margaret knew outside of the swim team, but she ended up being a best friend.
What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why?
The last chapter, because it has a happy ending.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers about your book?
Right after Stopped Cold came out, I was excited to learn it was a best seller on All Romance E-books. Also, there are several reviews on Good Reads at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17879103-stopped-cold
I’d like to thank you for having me on your blog, Mary.
Click to set custom HTML