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Interview: Shannon Kennedy

Welcome to Readers Write to Know!  I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance.  This week, I’m so pleased to introduce to you Shannon Kennedy.  Shannon is a horsemanship teacher and substitute teacher who comes up with story ideas while she mucks out stalls or drives her bulldozer named Frou Frou.  I had the best time with this interview, and hope you enjoy Shannon’s answers to your questions as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Shannon lives (and works) at her family business, Horse Country Farm, just outside of Granite Falls. Teaching kids to ride and know about horses since 1967, she finds in many cases, she’s taught three generations of families. Her life experiences span adventures from dealing cards in a casino, attending graduate school to get her Masters in Teaching degree, being a substitute teacher, and serving in the Army Reserve – all leading to her second career as a published author. Using her grandmother’s name of Josie Malone, she writes mainstream western romance. Her third book, A Woman’s Place just came out in trade paperback. Throw Away Teen, a young adult novel, will be out in December from Black Opal Books and No Horse Wanted will be a July 2013 release from Fire & Ice YA . Shannon is the newest contributing writer for Mountain Loop exPress.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?

When I attended Washington State University several years ago, I really wanted to find a critique group in Pullman, WA. I did and learned a great deal from the other writers who met once a week at the Skippers restaurant in nearby Moscow, ID. We traded our latest chapters. Then we were expected to read our work from the previous week aloud, getting not only written critiques but verbal ones as well.

The name of the group was Writer’s Bloc, and the expectation of regular submissions to critique along with the assignments due for my English and History courses since I was doing a “double major” meant there wasn’t time for me to opt out. I had to write every day either for class or for critique. As more experienced members told me, it’d be easier to listen to their advice if I brought in the “raw” or “rough drafts.” After all, I’d be revising and polishing that work anyway. I still send my first drafts off to my critique partners and try to write every day.

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Muse Monday: Links

Welcome to Muse Monday!

Every Monday, I’ll write a post about writing, or the muse, or frustrations with the muse, or excitement about the muse, or whatever strikes my fancy to write regarding the craft of writing. I’ll also include a Linky. Link up YOUR post about writing, or the muse, or frustrations with the muse, or excitement about the muse — ANYTHING to do with writing and the craft of writing.

Social Media Links

I know the Muse Monday is intended for writing craft articles and blog posts, but I’ve spent some time this weekend doing a few blog hops and came across something that I see as a trend among writer blogs.  While this may not be about craft, it is certainly about marketing.

I cannot easily find how to follow many writers on social media.  I can find links to everywhere on the planet to find a book, but I can’t find social media links.

I’ve spent over three years blogging at Hallee the Homemaker and interacting with other homemaking blogs.  For some reason, a typical homemaking/mommy/marketing blog is full of links in the sidebar or in every post for “follow me”.  I think they’re so obvious, because sponsors and advertisers for those kind of blogs want to see numbers – stat numbers, follower numbers, Facebook and Twitter friends.  The more obvious the “FOLLOW ME!” signs are, the more likely people will add their name to the numbers.

But in pursuing writers’ blogs, I have noticed that many of them do not have ANY obvious “follow me” signs.  I have to hunt and search for Facebook links,Twitter handles, and Google+ pages, and often I can’t find them.  I’ve had to go so far as to search for their names in Facebook or Twitter and then make guesses as to whether I’ve found the right person or not.

Here is my advice to you, my writer colleagues:  Make it obvious.  I you look on the left of your screen, you’ll see my big “Follow Me” banner – which will open up to provide you my links.  On Hallee the Homemaker, near the top of my sidebar, all of my social media links can be found.  At the bottom of each blog post, under my signature, a host of links are available.

I want people to follow me and I’m sure you do, too.  This is an easy and instant way to communicate with our fans.  Make it easy for them to find you.  Make it easy for ME to find you.

What is going on in your Muse world this week?  Leave a link to your blog post!  Here are the rules.

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Interview: Matthew R. Horn

In my world of romance writers, it’s so refreshing to have a guest on my blog who is a man and who writes a different kind of story.  The one he talks about in this interview is about a masked vigilante, a hero, the war internally and externally between good and bad.  I am excited to introduce to you author Matthew R. Horn.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I live in a small town in north central Indiana with my wife and our newborn Ella (10 weeks old).  I am the Chief Financial Officer for our small family company Modern Materials, Inc.  I am an active guy, I love to play basketball and tennis.  I love water activites like skiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and swimming.  My wife and I both love to run or go for walks.  I am a deacon at Macy Christian Church and I often counsel people on personal finances.

Tell us about your current release. 

The Good Fight was released by Brighton Publishing in September ’11.  It is my first published work and is 200 pages long.  It is about a young boy named Jeff who is bounced around from family members to orphanages before finally ending up on the street.  After getting into some trouble, his life is saved by a dark-suited vigilante.  The instance is life-changing for Jeff who goes back to the orphanage and goes back to school.  16 years later, Jeff has the opportunity to save the life of the vigilante.  In doing so he learns the man’s identity, only he is not quite the hero Jeff thought he would be.  Jeff becomes the hero’s reluctant protege, and eventually is forced to decide to either wear the suit himself to stop his former mentor, or let things be and try to continue on with his life.  The decision will affect everything that Jeff has worked so hard to become.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?

Writer’s block is a real doozy.  I have tried a lot of things.  My most prolific failure was to start 8 different book ideas at the same time.  At the time I figured my problem was my interest level and that if I had a lot of books going all together that surely at least one of them would interest me.  That really didn’t work.  What I’ve come to find is that sometimes I’m blocked and there just isn’t anything I can do about it.  I wait patiently until my next idea comes and then get back to it with a passion.  Patience really is the most effective way for me.


The Faith Element

Sapphire Ice 3DNow that The Jewel Trilogy is complete, I’ve started to turn my thoughts to what is next. I currently have seven books completely written. They are not Christian romances — quite the opposite. They’re full of everything you’re not supposed to put into a Christian novel. Like The Jewel Trilogy, I need to go into each one of them and revamp them, adjust the characters, add a faith element, and remove the bad. Sapphire Ice was the first book I did this to, and what happened amazed me — what was already a good book became a GREAT book! I was so excited to get to the other two. One of them had to be completely gutted and reworked (Emerald Fire), but like Sapphire Ice, Topaz Heat just needed minor tweaking.

So, I’ve done it — three times in the last year — and it worked and it worked wonderfully!

At my book signing last weekend, a group of friends and I were talking about what might be next. Like I said, I have seven more books. One cannot be a Christian novel. There’s a paranormal major story plot point that if it went away, the entire story deflates. So, it will forever be shelved. I have another trilogy – this one about three brothers. And, I have three books that are interconnected but not an actual trilogy — they just carry minor characters from one book into major characters into the next book — but really they could all stand alone if need be.

The first one in that group is the first book I ever wrote. The working title is Song of Retribution. I wrote this 100,000 word novel in, no kidding, six weeks. Since then, I’ve never touched it. Which means the writing is BAD. BAD. BAD. It’s full of passive voice, head hopping, very little “thoughts and feelings”, and just general rookie writer mistakes.

Emerald Fire 3DOh, but the story is a GOOD story. GOOD. GOOD. This is the kind of story that a reader would totally devour.

At my book signing, we were all standing around talking about it. I explained that looked at it and looked at it and thought, it’s a good story, it can be cleaned up, but I honestly don’t know that a faith element would add to the book. So, maybe I’ll just make it a “clean” romance and publish it like that.

Everyone encouraged me and said it was a great idea.

That was on a Saturday. On Monday, I got this review on Amazon for Topaz Heat (emphasis by me):

Hallee Bridgeman hit it out of the park with this one! Her other two books in the Jewel Trilogy were great, but this one surpassed my expectations! It was well written, amazing character development and emotions. However, her use of Faith in this book is what really sets it apart! It was enough to renew my faith and question why I am not more like the main character! Best book in the series! Can’t wait to see what this new author puts out next!!!!!

Monday night, a woman approached me while I was volunteering. She said, “I finished chapter 9 in Sapphire Ice and I put the book down and prayed longer and harder than I ever had in my entire life. You’ve changed my relationship with God. I can’t thank you enough.”

Topaz HeatThursday morning, I got this review on Barnes & Noble for Topaz Heat (emphasis by me):

As the last book in this series.. I was amazed to say the least..I loved reading all these, but I think the last may have been the best! I loved the simple truths that are so well written within these books. The old saying I have heard all my life came to mind while reading .. you can’t judge a book by the cover.. of course I am not talking a out the cover of this book, as christians sometimes we only see what others look like on the outside.. we forget that though they may seem very much the same.. that God can change that person completely without you looking close enough you may overlook the true transformation of the heart while focused on the outside of the person.. Again, cannot say enough good things about this series.. I hope to find (if there are any more) and read ALL this author has to offer. I have found another favorite author!

I think I’m capable of taking a hint.

There are a TON of good, well-written, exciting clean romances out there. I’m not sure that’s what God has called me to write. I’m certain that right now, during this part of my journey, what He wants me doing is adding that element of faith: the challenges, the beauty, the wonder, the strength that can come from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

If what I’ve already written isn’t going to fit the bill, then I’ll write something new. I know that as long as I’m open in communication with God, and what I write glorifies Him, then what I put out there will be what He wants me to put out there.

I’m good with that.

Hallee Bridgeman Precious Signature

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