Wednesday, April 05, 2023

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Shannon Lawrence Interview, and Sandra Cox Feature

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Today’s question: Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you? If you're at the start of the journey, what are your goals?

I wanted to be an author ever since I picked up the newly-released The White Dragon at aged 13 and pictured my name on the cover. The journey had many starts and stops, a weak beginning, another bit of a pause, and now back in swing with my paranormal romance series, In Darkness. Now is definitely a better place than where I began as author!

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Today I am featuring two very patient authors, both of whom were to have a guest spot on this blog last month – and I totally spaced both! Carolyn Howard-Johnson got Shannon’s spot and then I completely forgot Sandra’s. So, I am giving them both a prime spot here today to make up for it.

First up, Shannon Lawrence and Happy Ghoulidays II:

How did you select the title?

I wanted a play on "holiday" that also conveyed that this was horror, and this is what came to mind.

Why holiday horror stories?
Holiday horror movies are always fun. I like to watch them when the holiday rolls around. Christmas horror is a personal favorite, which is why there are two of those in the predecessor to this book. There's a familiarity to the holidays, and plenty fo fun to be had by playing around with them. In a way, we take the holidays for granted, doing the same things over and over again (tradition). I wanted to shake that up a bit.

The covers of the two Happy Ghoulidays books make one creature. Was that planned and who does your cover work?

It wasn't planned from the very beginning. My husband does my covers for me. Initially, he offered to try because he'd personally wanted to try graphic art (he works in computers, but not in art). It turns out he has a great eye for it! In fact, at a writing event, a publisher came up and asked me to pass their card along to my cover designer. When I was considering doing a second Ghoulidays collection, we thought it would be fun to make it so the covers would form one piece of art when next to each other, and it really helps to bring them together since the two have different holidays in them.

What was different between putting together book 1 and putting together book 2?
In book 2 I already had a process. I made a list of the holidays and researched them until something caught my attention. If nothing inspired me, that holiday wasn't going to be in the book. There are so many holidays! The second book was also more focused. In addition, one of the stories in the second one has my first trigger warning. Typically, I feel like horror brings the implication of possible triggers, but this was a topic I didn't want to cause harm.

Do you have plans for a third book?
At this time, I don't think I'd do a third book. These were both meant to be "fun" projects for me. Something to get the creative juices flowing and enjoy the process. Holidays make great prompts. Not that I wouldn't be able to write more holiday stories or enjoy doing so, but two collections is good. Plus, how would I work the cover in with the others?

Happy Ghoulidays II
The holidays elicit a mixture of emotions, from joy and revelry to despair and rage. In these stories, we examine the dark side of the holidays with a twisted Easter egg hunt, a desperate St. Patrick's Day curse, a monster that's only visible in the light of fireworks, a mother's guilt on Halloween, and more in this follow up to Happy Ghoulidays that embraces the underlying shadows of our favorite holidays.

Available on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Scribd, and Smashwords. E-book universal link HERE Also available in paperback at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her three solo horror short story collections and her nonfiction title are available now, with her fourth collection releasing March 2023. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her HERE.

Next, we have the delightful Sandra Cox and Return to Silverhills:

Greetings, Everyone. Diane, thanks so much letting me come to visit and chat about Return to Silverhills.

As far as writing this story, I enjoyed ‘returning’ to Silverhills and getting reacquainted with characters who were old friends. The main problem I ran into writing it was that it had been years since I wrote Silverhills. Seriously, years. So, I had to keep a copy at my elbow to use as a reference. I got all the way through Return and thought I had the perfect ending when I realized my perfect ending didn’t jive with the timeframe mentioned in Silverhills. I wasn’t about to give up my ending so I had to do some fiddling. Hopefully, my fiddling and my ending meshed😊

Return to Silverhills
A trail boss with a fast gun. A damaged woman. A cattle drive fraught with danger. And a combustible attraction.

The unexpected sound made her heart crash against her ribs, her hands grow clammy and her breath push in and out in sharp gasps. Her horse sidled in response to her nerves.
More gunfire and whoops sounded in the distance.
She flinched. The bang and flash of gunfire. The sight and scent of sulphur. Always a reminder of the night the Comancheros had captured her and slaughtered her family.
Fighting back the painful memories, Lisa Reiner stared into the valley at the ranch below, the mountains behind it throwing off a blinding glitter wherever the sun touched. Alex talked incessantly about those flashes of silver in the hills. Alex. Who’d cared enough to take her out of the mission and bring her to her own home to start fresh, to live with her like a sister.
Slowly. Tentatively. Fear and nerves crawled into excitement. Silverhills.

Foodie Facts:

She spent a number of years in the Midwest chasing down good Southern BBQ. By the time she moved to North Carolina where Southern BBQ is practically a staple, she’d become a vegetarian. (Same here, Sandra!)
Pineapple is a must-have on pizza, along with black olives and onions. (I agree! Plus sun-dried tomatoes.)
She loves pumpkin waffles. Pumpkin cream cheese, not so much. (I will have to try those.)

Sandra, who also writes as S. Cox, is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and cats in sunny North Carolina.
An award-winning author, her stories consist of all things Western and more.

You can find her at: website / Cowboy Trivia / blog / Twitter

Find Return to Silverhills on Amazon

What are your thoughts on your writing career path?
Have you picked up Shannon’s and Sandra’s books?
And May kicks off my tour for the release of In Darkness: The Shark!