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!

* * *

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!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Ghouldays is a great way to indicate genre in a title!

I like pineapple on pizzas, too. :)

H. R. Sinclair said...

Congrats to everyone! Ghoulidays is a super fun idea and I love how the covers make a monster! Awesome.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Shannon, I think the cover turned out awesome.
Sandra, I had to reference my earlier Cassa books when writing the fourth one because it had also been years.

Nick Wilford said...

You achieved your dreams and then some. You have your own empire!

All those books look great. What a cool idea to mesh the covers of Shannon's books.

J.Q. Rose said...

Congrats to both writers on their new releases. Sandra--I melted when I read the ending to your book. Shannon--now I'm curious about those scary twists on the holidays! What an imagination!

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great you're in a better place in your writing now. Me too. Congrats to Sandra and Shannon on their releases.

Loni Townsend said...

Congrats to both authors on the releases! The books certainly capture attention. I hope they encounter tons of success!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congratulations to Sandra and Shannon on the new books. Wishing them loads of success. At 13 I was clueless about writing.

Arlee Bird said...

Diane, you were among the first bloggers I ran across when I started blogging. In the ensuing decade plus I've watched you continually ascending on your writer journey. What a neat ride it's been sharing your successes. Always enjoy seeing the photos you post on FB of the various book fair and such.


cleemckenzie said...

How great to host both authors who write such different genres! Congrats to both and to you for figuring out a way to catch up and do it well!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Happy IWSG Day, Diane. You are such a huge influence in my life. Thanks for all you do. And thanks for featuring Shannon and Sandra, two very excellent writers.

Tyrean Martinson said...

So many good books! Thanks for sharing these! I'm looking forward to reading In Darkness: The Shark. :)

emaginette said...

I love your cover, Diane. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks for featuring Shannon and Sandra, Diane. I have enjoyed some of Sandra's westerns. They're always fun. I think Shannon's cover is wonderful. At some point I want to read one of her books because she is a fellow Coloradan. So many great books and not enough time for reading! Enjoy IWSG Day!

Sandra Cox said...

Woot. Woot. Can't wait for the release of Shark. What a great read. AND I'll have to try sun-dried tomatoes on pizza. Sounds yummy. Thanks so much for featuring me. Appreciate ya.
Congrats, Shannon. Love the title and the cover.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Lee. That meeting was SO many years ago.

Joylene, thank you for being a part of mine.

Tyrean, I hope you enjoy it. It's a very sweet story.

Anna, thank you. All credit goes to our illustrator.

Thank you, Sandra. And you're very welcome.

Jemi Fraser said...

Pineapple should always be on pizza! I prefer mine with mushrooms and Feta as well :)
I adore Shannon's covers and love how they fit!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Now, now, Shannon, you know how I'm a big chicken. I have nightmares if I read horror.

I love the blurb for Sandra's book: A trail boss with a fast gun. A damaged woman. A cattle drive fraught with danger. And a combustible attraction.

Bravo to all the new releases. The covers are amazing. Have a beautiful day!

Jen said...

What a very clever cover idea! I love how they come together and create one monster.

I think every writer's career is full of stops and starts. The important part is not to let the stops dictate your sense of worth and to get started again as soon as possible and keep at it! Those words aren't going to write themselves.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great to read these bits from two great authors. Diane, I'm glad I'm not the only one who does stuff like that :)

Happy April, everyone.

Olga Godim said...

@Shannon: Love your covers. I'm not surprised a publisher approached you about your cover designer.
@Sandra: Your excerpt is enticing; a mix of feeling I'd want to resolve by reading the book.

Sarah Foster said...

Congrats to both authors! The way the covers look together is really cool.

Denise Covey said...

Congrats to you and your authors. Very impressive use of the covers!

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. said...

That's really clever, Shannon, that you and your husband made the two books' covers to form one image!

That must be a real challenge, Sandra, to have to look back on a book you hadn't worked with in a long time in order to make the sequel. You must have a lot of patience and good focus.

Diane, that's a neat title: In Darkness the Shark! Good luck with your book tour! said...

I know Shannon. Hi! Congrats on Happy Ghoulidays II!

Liz A. said...

I loved The White Dragon. Those books look interesting.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Those horror holiday books look great! Love the cover design.
Pumpkin waffles are tasty, especially with butter pecan syrup.

Happy IWSG day! Here's a giveaway-
It's April, so I'm focused on the #AtoZChallenge.
Proof of Existence, book two in my dark urban fantasy series, is out this month.
I'm running another giveaway on my blog.

J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Reference& Speculative Fiction Author, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, and Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge

Shannon Lawrence said...

Elizabeth, thank you! It can be tricky to properly convey horror in the title, but it's also important.

H.R., thank you! I love his evil, little face.

Alex, thank you!

Nick, thank you!

J.Q., curiosity is good!

Natalie, thank you!

Loni, I hope so, too, thanks!

Rachna, thank you!

Shannon Lawrence said...

C. Lee, thank you!

Joylene, so nice of you to say, thank you!

Tyrean, there's quite a variety of books in this post, right? Love it!

Fundy, thank you to a fellow Coloradan!

Sandra, congratulations to you, as well! I also love pineapple on pizza, but have recently started adding banana peppers.

Jemi, thank you so much! I appreciate it.

Victoria, I understand completely, but thank you for the good wishes!

Jen, thank you, and great advice!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Carol, right? We're all human. And thank you!

Olga, thank you! That's great to hear.

Sarah, thank you!

Denise, thank you!

Steven, thank you, it was fun to make happen!

Kim, hi! It's been a while, but Trick r Read is coming back this year!

Liz, thank you!

J Lenni, thank you, and good luck with your upcoming book launch!

Shannon Lawrence said...

And finally, Diane, thank you for featuring me (and Sandra) today!

Karen Baldwin said...

Love your honesty about being human. :) You do so much, It amazes me. Loved also the two interviews. And how creative the two Holiday Ghoulidays covers. Wishing you HUGE success with IN DARKNESS The Shark

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I really enjoyed both of these interviews. I've read some of Shannon's nonfiction but may try some of her scary stories as well. It's cool to learn that I don't live too far from Sandra. I've only read a few Westerns, but I've enjoyed them. May have to check out her series.
BTW- I really enjoyed In Darkness: The Vampire. Hope the next book is just as good.

Diane Burton said...

Being human means dealing with what's necessary. You can only do so much. Cut yourself some slack. Great interviews.

Gwen Gardner said...

Diane, I'm so glad the right time finally came for you!

Shannon, awesome dual covers! Congrats on your new release too.

Sandra, somehow there always seems a way to plug those plot holes. Congrats!

Sherry Ellis said...

I love that the two covers make a whole creature. Unique and creative!

I'm looking forward to reading The Shark. I'm so happy that you have found time to write your own books!

Bish Denham said...

Love the title of Shannon's book and the cover is all kinds of spooky. And who doesn't like a good Western? Congratulations to you both!

Juneta key said...

I love Anne McCaffrey she definitely inspired my imagination as kid too.

Wow, those book covers are awesome Sharon, I had to grab the books too. Sandra what a fun thing to return to an old familiar writing series--almost like going home huh? Thought you had a great cover too.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Oh my gosh, I loved the White Dragon! said...

That's a beautiful cover, Diane.
I'm excited for you!

Lynn J Simpson said...

Pumpkin pancakes are wonderful! I'll have to try pumpkin waffles, as love waffles. And would add pumpkin whip cream. Thanks for introducing me to these books and authors. Eye-catching covers for sure!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

They all sound like wonderful reads. I haven't had enough reading time in my life lately. I need more time to read so I can buy more books.

Forgetting happens. Or sometimes you worry so much about forgetting that you post a month early. :/