I met Shawna K. Williams through the American Christian Fiction Writers association, where she is an active participant in the online ACFW Book Club. She lives in Arkansas and says this about herself:
I'm a lot of things, so I'll list them according to importance; I'm a Christian, a wife, mother, friend. I'm also a teacher, writer, artist, rancher, and animal lover. These last few kind of jostle for my attention, and what's more important one day, isn't the next. I think that's true with everyone.
She is also involved in a non-profit ministry to help women get out of the sex trafficking industry. It is faith based, and their hope is to bring those they take in to Christ, but they also work to transition these women into a life far away from the industry, where they can get and hold a job, find and keep a home, and repair damaged relationships. She is helping to obtain donations of books and other items to help these women through this transition.
In All Things
What impressed me about Shawna is her writing. Shawna is the author of three books published by Desert Breeze, No Other, In All Things, and Orphaned Hearts, with a fourth book due out this year. I've read the first two and loved them both. Today, I'll be talking to her about In All Things.
Q: From talking to you about your book, No Other, I know you research the time period of your stories in great detail. In preparing for the sequel, In All Things, how did you learn so much about Hollywood stars during that time period? Do you have some inside knowledge of that time and place?
A: The setting and era were probably what seemed most daunting when I started this book. I've always had a fascination with Old Hollywood, and had already read a number of biographies about starlets of the day. I learned quite a bit about the internal struggles going on within the industry from these actresses own run-ins with the powers that be.
Mostly, I just researched the snot out of this thing. The last thing I wanted was to sound like a girl, born in 1970 and living in Arkansas, writing about 1950s Hollywood. It makes me really happy that you wondered if I had an inside source. I was able to find someone who worked as a makeup artist in the industry, and someone who worked as a costumer. Those ladies were helpful for clarifying several finer points. Other than that though, I just read everything I could get my hands on about the industry. I've got quite a collection of books about Hollywood history, agents and managers, on set etiquette, the technical side of movie making, you name it. One of the most fascinating books is called The Star Machine. It's about the factory like process Old Hollywood used to create its stars. Everything was manufactured! I used this as a basis for Meri's journey into stardom.
Any hints for a busy writer?
Q: I see you marketing your other books through various ways and helping other writers so much, it makes me wonder how you find time to write. Any hints for a busy writer?
A: Don't sleep. I'm at home during the day, so that is a benefit for me. I try to use my spare time in the daylight hours to take care of the business angle. It's getting harder, though. I'm kind of struggling with a case of burn out at the moment, but still trying to hang in there.
I write at night after everyone has gone to bed.
Q: I try not to read book reviews for a book I plan to review myself so I haven't read the ones for In All Things. However, I heard you voice concern about your first negative review. Tell us how that made you feel at the time and how you feel now that you've had time to think about it.
A: I knew that sooner or later I'd get one because that's just part of the biz. I had wondered how I would react. In all honesty, I'm okay. Sure, I wish the person would have loved the book. There's a lot packed into it, and my hope has always been that readers will understand my intent and find something of value to take away. It's not an easy read though, and therefore it's not going to appeal to everyone. The reviewer who gave it a negative rating is also an author. From the books she's written, it's clear that she and I have very different preferences and are also writing to different audiences, so it makes sense that this story wouldn't appeal to her.
Q: There's not a nice way to say this, but I noticed your first book, No Other, was cluttered with problems that should have been caught by a good editor while In All Things had none that I noticed. What happened between the first and second book?
A: Ah...yes. When No Other came out Desert Breeze had just turned a year old. They were growing rapidly but the editing staff was still very tiny. Problems were creeping up in a number of books, but it has been addressed. There are now six editors on staff and they're able to take more time with each book. Also, an author approval round has been added. I love the company, and when they realized the quality was suffering they were quick to fix the problem. I do hope to go back and correct some of the typos in No Other at some point.
Q: I read where you've signed a contract for a sequel to In All Things. Can you tell us about it? Have you written it already? Will it follow In All Things in time? When will it be available?
A: I signed a contract for The Good Fight, which will release in November 2011. I like to think of it as a spin-off from No Other and In All Things. Both of those books were mainly about Jakob and Meri. The Good Fight will focus on Roger, a character from No Other, who also had a small role in In All Things. The story takes place a few months after In All Things, right after Ralph is sent to prison. Roger is the DA, and he's faced with bringing Meri's dad to justice when he realizes that he's helping Galveston's mob family, the Maceo brothers (real mob family), relocate their gambling establishments to Port Delamar. There's a romance, of course, with Pennye, the sister of the kid Roger just prosecuted for murder. Oops!
So, we a have a new book to look forward to, and it sounds great. Thank you, Shawna, for sharing with us today. For more information about Shawna K Williams and her books, check her blog: http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/.
Where Can You Buy a Book?
Click the Amazon ad for the Kindle edition. Shawna's books are available in all eBook formats. Click Desert Breeze for the others.