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A Chat with Shawna K Williams

04 Apr Posted by in Member Interviews | 3 comments

Today we’ll be talking with Arkansas author, Shawna K Williams. Shawna’s inspirational novels are filled with true-to-life characters, flaws and all. Many of her stories take us on a nostalgic trip back to early 20th century, rural America.

Shawna thank you for letting us spend some time getting to know you better.  I read on your webpage that your first two books are a result of a dream.  Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Absolutely! It was close to nine years ago that I had this dream, and before that I hadn’t intended to be a writer. I actually didn’t intend to for a while after that dream either. This dream was just interesting. It was in scenes, like a play, and sometimes I was a character and sometimes I was a spectator, but I could always feel the characters’ emotions. (It’s funny that I think of the people in my dream as characters now. I’m sure that I didn’t back then) Anyhow, I was rather captivated by this story in my dream, but it was incomplete, so for about six months I thought about it, A LOT, trying to fill in gaps and details until it started becoming too complicated for me to keep up with. That’s when I decided to start writing. Initially the point was to keep things straight and satisfy my curiosity, but over time I really fell in love with the characters and their story, and with writing too.

For a number of years I played with this story, putting it away, and pulling it out. Sometimes I’d think about trying to get it published, and then I’d talk myself out of it and tell myself that it was just for me. But… about three and a half years ago I started to feel different. That’s when I decided to get serious about learning to write, because even though I had a completed manuscript I knew that quality-wise it was lacking. I really believed I had potential; it was just undeveloped. So, I began to learn through critique groups and books, started writing short stories and gaining writing credits that way, and then I completely rewrote my book — this time into two books. It turned out that I had more than just those two stories in me. I’m currently working on my fourth book, which is under contract, and I’ve got quite a few ideas simmering.

In September your book, No Other, was the first ebook to be chosen for discussion by the ACFW book club. The sequel, In All Things, is now the May discussion book for the ACFW book club. That’s great! All three of your books, In All Things and No Other and your latest Orphaned Hearts are all ebooks.

Ebooks have recently seen a boost in popularity, do you mind sharing how it works from an author’s point of view?

I chose Desert Breeze because I knew an author who had several books with them. She’s a wonderful author, and she and I shared similar ideas about the ministry aspect of Christian Fiction. No Other and In All Things aren’t what I’d call edgy, but they are grittier and very true to life. I felt Desert Breeze would be a good fit because of this.

I’ll be honest and admit that I had concerns about submitting to DBP since they were only publishing digitally at the time. If they hadn’t planned to expand into print, I probably wouldn’t have submitted back then. I feel quite a bit different now, and have signed two more books with them since No Other and In All Things, which were signed at the same time.

Over the past year and a half I’ve seen enormous strides made with ebooks. Even out here in rural Arkansas, about six of my friends have ereaders. I saw a huge boost at Christmas time and that has proven sustainable in the months since. I’m really encouraged about the future of digital publishing. I don’t think print books will vanish. I still love print copies and I think most people do. Digital books are just another way to read. I do believe that digital publishing helps publishers become more profitable, and provides authors with more opportunity. I also love the convenience. I’m out here where there’s no bookstore close by, and out local library is quite small. The cost of shipping adds up and my Kindle is like my own personal bookstore with free delivery.

Now that the publisher, Desert Breeze is expanding to print later this year are you looking forward to having your books out in hard copy? I imagine it will mean book signings and meeting fans fact to face, do you think it will have a great effect on how you interact with your readers?

Absolutely! Also, nothing is in stone. Our EIC has announced that print is definitely a goal for this year, but she is also very determined to keep DBP in business. It’s still young and the first few years for a new business are the toughest – never mind the current state of the economy. From the beginning she has been clear that Desert Breeze will expand as it can afford to. I feel pretty confident that it will happen this year. There are some authors, like Anne Patrick, that are really picking up a following.

 

I have to admit that I can’t wait to do a book signing. This is probably the main disadvantage to digital publishing. I really look forward to being able to interact with readers in this way. There’s a more personal aspect to it. Also sometimes people ask about it because they want to give one of my books as a gift. I definitely see the advantage of print as it relates to gift giving. I want to readers to be able to have this option.

Are you working on a new book at this time?  I know you’ve hinted at working in a different genre in the future.  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am working on a new book right now, but not one in a different genre. This book is actually one I hadn’t intended to write, but after No Other’s release I had quite a few people asking about the character of Roger, and if I’d give him his own story. Initially, I didn’t plan to but then I started thinking about it, and seeing a really interesting angle. I pitched it to my publisher and it’s scheduled for release in November. While it’s a historical, it will include more elements of suspense than my other books.

I have a lot of ideas brewing right now. One is a contemporary suspense, two are contemporary literary fiction. One is for a historical stand alone. One for a historical series (This one has been with me for a while and will probably get the next attention slot. Memoirs of a Ghost town is the series name and also the premise).

I love science fiction. I know that sounds strange that I’d be so into historicals but also love scifi. I grew up with a Trekkie mom though. I have an idea that would involve several books, but it’s kind of overwhelming. I’ve been making notes about it, and when the time comes things will fall into place, I hope. I’d like for it to be an epic type story, involving an entire culture’s history and the battle of good vs evil, but we’ll have to see if I’m capable of pulling that off. It makes my head hurt a little bit when I think about it. I want to do it though.

 

I read that you’re a rock hound. Have you made any interesting finds? Arkansas is the perfect state for anyone that likes to collect rocks.  Up here in the Ozarks we often call our state Rock-n-saw. I actually have a diamond I found at the Crater of Diamonds.  We only went the one time but it was so much fun… but this is your interview …

I do! And it was at the Crater of Diamonds, too. We didn’t find a diamond, but we found a huge amethyst deposit. It started off with me finding a calcite crystal, and then another. We started digging, and before long amethyst started showing up with the calcite. Then we started pulling out rocks the size of footballs, covered in amethyst crystals. The park ranger said that to the best of his knowledge, it was the largest Amethyst deposit found since the rock in the park’s museum was discovered, more the sixty years ago. Ours is on display in our house.

We’ve found some pretty cool quartz formations on our own property. I’d still like to find a diamond.

 

What else do you like to do in your spare time?

I love gemstones, so I spend a bit of time making jewelry. I’ve sold it locally, but when I have more time plan to set up a web presence. I’ve also incorporated my pearl jewelry into the theme of my writing. Here’s a little saying I include with my bracelets. I often give these away with a digital version of one of my books whenever I have drawings.

“Just as an oyster forms a lovely pearl from the irritant burrowed within its shell, God does the same for each of us. Through His Grace the pain of our past is transformed into something beautiful and unique – a treasure in His sight. When you look at this bracelet, may you always be reminded that you are a Pearl.”

My stories are very much along this same theme. I think this is so very true.

I cherish the time spent with my family, friends, and critters. They keep me going and I’m so very blessed to have them in my life. Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in what I’m doing and they’re there to pull me out of my cave and remind me what’s truly important.

 

Thank you for that reminder Shawna.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment and overlook the important things like family and friends.  I hope you’ll let us know when you have a site set up with your jewelry.

 

  1. Jenny Carlisle04-04-11

    Great interview Shawna and Jamie. Rock hunting and jewelry making. Fascinating!

  2. Sheila Covey04-19-11

    Enjoyed reading about Shawna. And I believe I’d like to read Shawna’s books–I don’t have an eReader, so I’ll have to wait ’til they come out in print. Thanks for the post!

  3. Shawna05-10-11

    Here’s what a ditz I am. It took me three weeks to find this. Thank you, ladies for the precious comments. Blessings!

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