December 28th, 2018
I asked Shanna where she would like to interview:
I decided to meet Laura Mae at the adorable little French Bistro in Abundance, Texas, where my favorite female characters, Natalie and Jordan always dine when they’re in town. They always rave about its decadent menu and rustic interior. It’s located at the corner of Main and East 2nd streets in one of the large brick buildings there. On this lovely and cool autumn afternoon, there’s a slight breeze, just the perfect weather for my chocolate brown suede jacket and thin scarf. I decided to wear my favorite worn-in rust colored sweater, a perfect match to the leaves that are falling around me like confetti as I enter the café.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and spicy cinnamon hits my nose first. The hostess, dressed in a white button-down shirt with a black skirt and tie, greets me. My eyes take in the quaint and homey interior of this little café with its black and white checkered floors, large picture windows and the lone red brick wall. Booths and small tables line the interior set back from the wooden hostess stand and bakery counter filled with various homemade pastries and desserts. I notice that it’s fairly quiet in here; the lunch rush has been over for a couple hours now. Perfect!
Laura Mae waves at me from one of the red leather booths and as I approach her, I see that she’s ordered us both steaming caramel macchiatos and pumpkin spice bread. I know immediately that we are going to be get along splendidly.
Laura Mae: Hello Shanna! How are you doing today?
Shanna Swenson: I’m great! How are you Laura?
L: I’m very good. Got my tea, so I’m set!
S: Awesome! I’m sipping on some water myself. I love tea! What kind is it?!
L: It is black tea, so yummy!
S: Nice, I love all kinds- black, white, green, chai.
L: Very good! I like green as well, but I wanted something stronger. Haha! So Shanna, what are you working on right now in the writing world?
S: I’m currently about 3/4 of the way through my third book in my Abundance series, entitled Escape from Abundance and I literally just finished the final draft of the second book, Return to Abundance. I’m hoping to get it formatted and uploaded to Amazon for pre-orders before week’s end.
L: Oh wow! You are a go-getter! Good for you! What’s the Abundance series about?
S: The first book, Abundance, follows my female MC, Natalie Cameron, as she returns home to Abundance after a devastating series of incidents involving her ex-husband. She’s got her four year old daughter, Dallas, with her and they’re rescued by her parent’s ranch foreman, Jack Kinsen, when their car breaks down on the side of the road. Natalie has to try and rebuild her life while she fights to let Jack into her heart. She encounters some struggles along the way, including small town gossip, coming face to the face with her estranged brother and realizing that her daughter has an incredible gift with the horse’s Natalie always loved herself. There’s a slew of lovable characters that are introduced along the way.
The second book picks up where the first left off and follows Natalie’s brother, Nathan who has some secrets of his own.
The third book is Dallas’s story- set another 12 years in the future. I’ve even decided to keep going and have a couple spin offs of certain characters, so I’m planning on having 5 books in this series.
L: Oh very cool! That sounds like a really interesting story! Are the characters in this booked based off of real life people you know or just all from your imagination?
S: It all came from my imagination. Natalie is that inner fighter in all of us, but she’s completely fictional. Dallas- Dallie for short- on the other hand was inspired by my niece, who was her age at the time. A lot of things Dallie says come from things my niece said or did, her toys, etc.
L: Adorable! I love strong female characters! How long have you been writing this series for? And what inspired you to write this particular story?
S: I actually got the idea, for the third book back when I was in high school- I’m aging myself here, LOL- 20 years ago! I had about half of it written on paper, and lost it when I moved! I was devastated. Years went by before I even wanted to write again. Then I decided I wanted to go back in time and write Dallie’s parents story, thus Abundance was born! This book idea was inspired by the movies- The Horse Whisperer and Hope Floats, it was like a culmination of the two then I asked myself “What would be the worst thing that could happen to a mother, without her child dying, that could make her lose all hope in humanity?” When I answered that question, I knew that only true love could heal the blow- Jack came into play then, a compassionate knight in shining armor-type and I knew I had a story to tell!
L: That’s really cool that you decided to pick it up again! One of those things I think you would regret if you didn’t. What would you say is your favorite element of writing? – Characters, setting, dialogue, ect…
S: I just enjoy getting pulled into the story with my characters. Sometimes it’s as if they take it over and I’m just a bystander watching the scenes unfold LOL! If I HAD to choose just one- it would probably be dialogue, especially if it’s engaging!
L: It is a hard choice, sorry! Haha! I love dialogue as well. What would you say you like to write the least, or at least struggle with more?
S: That one is easier LOL. Editing and having to deal with grammar!!! I’m always second- guessing where to put the comma or use a dash instead, etc. The English language is very complicated LOL!
L: Tell me about it! That’s why sometimes I just leave all that to the professionals. It can be such a dream killer. Haha! So let’s go over to reading. Anything you are currently reading or on your TBR list?
S: Yes! I’m in the process of trying to get the second book launched, I’m reading Pandora by fellow Indie author Joshua Grant and Winters Delight by Zuzu Lu for #Indiecember. My TBR pile is full of mostly indie books I’m looking forward to reading in the new year.
L: That’s so great!! I love that you support indie authors as well! We have a such a great community out there!
S: Yes! We really do! I have met so many awesome people on this journey! Writers are the best people.
L: Agreed! Speaking of, do you have any favorite authors at all? Do they inspire you in any way?
S: My favorite author is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her book was the first romance novel that I read at the age of 13. It had so many dynamic and lovable characters that I knew I wanted to write just like her. I actually wrote to her at the age of 15 and she wrote me back and told me to pursue my dream; I was ecstatic! I also love George RR Martin, Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer as well as J. K. Rowling, Richard Preston, and John Grisham. I have a very eclectic taste in books, music and movies.
C.R. Pugh and Danielle Novotny are two indie favorites of mine, brand new authors such as myself who are very talented writers.
L: Great choices! All very inspiring authors! I love that. What would you say the type of music you listen to mostly? Anything you need to listen to when you sit down to write?
S: It’s based on my moods really but I listen to mostly Rock. When I’m writing it has to be classical or instrumental and it has to be soft. If it has lyrics I end up singing along and nothing gets written.
L: Lyrics usually throw me off too. Haha! Do you have any favorite characters at all? From books or elsewhere? And why?
S: Oh wow! I have many! One of my favorite characters is Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, she’s got a backbone of steel and she just blows me away with her courage and dedication! Of course, Thor from the Avengers, he’s an arrogant warrior but with a heart of gold. And of course I admire Edward and Bella. Bella reminds me of myself- clumsy, a bit introverted and feels like she doesn’t fit in. Edward is her other half and he’s so protective of her, it’s endearing and I’m a sucker for a sweet romance.
L: Oh Deanery’s for sure! I love that woman so much! Like the definition of a badass! And Thor is awesome too.
S: Yes! She absolutely is! Thor too! He’s always so funny! Like he’s not trying to be but is!
L: So since you have been writing 3 books so far, is there anything you wish you knew earlier? Any regrets or just mistakes you could have avoided?
S: I wish I had been better prepared for the leap. As much research as I did, I still felt grossly ill-prepared, but I’m super glad I did it and I wouldn’t change anything except maybe publish sooner. I was too afraid to share it with the world and it just took time for me to thicken my skin. I’m constantly learning but that’s a good thing I think! Making connections has been a true blessing!
L: Agreed completely! There is always so much more than you think there is when self-publishing. Do your research, everyone! Haha! Do you have any favorite or least favorite fantasy tropes?
S: I always enjoy good winning over evil and having that quiet hero convert to a badass. I honestly just enjoy a well written story with relatable characters – whether that be zombies, wizards, cowboys or aliens. I love a story that has some mystery. The unknown fascinates me!
L: Nice! Yes that’s a favorite of mine as well! Shanna, what do you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t writing?
S: I like to practice Yoga, hike, take photographs of beautiful landscapes, watch pro football – Go Pack Go!, watch all sorts of movies and hang out my family!
L: Lovely! You’re into a lot of different things! Love it! What’s your favorite movie? Or one of your favorites?
S: So hard to choose just one! I LOVED the Mummy, the 1999 version with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. It had it all-history, action, comedy and romance. I was always enthralled with ancient Egypt. Honorable mentions- 300, Van Helsing, Alien, Inglorious Bastards, and Little Women to name a few.
L: So funny you say that! I really Loved the Mummy too! When Brendan Fraser was really big. And I love that historic stuff too. The others are great too!! Alright Shana, last question, what’s some advice to aspiring authors out there who might be down on their luck?
S: I would simply remind them why they started writing in the first place and to hold onto that! As writers we can create new worlds to get lost in; its an incredible ability. We write because we love it, not because we have to! Keep dreaming and never stop seeking!
L: Exactly! Great advice! Thanks so much again for talking with me, Shanna!
S: And thank you for chatting with me and for this opportunity! I truly appreciate it! I hope you have a great evening!
L: Thanks, you too!
Shanna is a dreamer turned writer who does cardiac ultrasounds during the week and creates other worlds every chance she can. She started writing at the ripe age of fourteen and has always loved dynamic characters. She’s a Georgia native who married her own “knight in shining armor” in 2015 and when she’s not working on her next novel, she enjoys watching movies of the horror and action persuasion and pro football, practicing yoga, listening to the music that suits her mood, hiking, reading many different genres of books, and taking photos of nature; she has an obsession with sunsets.
For Natalie Cameron, misfortune came in the most unspeakable way imaginable, now she must try and rebuild her life while fighting her own dark demons, the town speculation, her arrogant brother and her raging desire for the kindest man she’s ever met.
Natalie Cameron, along with her young daughter, Dallas, is on the run from a past that threatens to destroy her sanity. When her car breaks down on the side of a two lane Texas road, Jack Kinsen, her parent’s ranch foreman, unknowingly comes to her rescue. His kind eyes and sincere charm make him an easy target for Natalie’s trust issues and pent-up aggressions. But it doesn’t take her long to realize that her attitude towards him has a lot less to do with jealousy and a lot more to do with the fact that his closeness sets her on fire like no one else ever has. His sincerity begins to disarm the front she guards so vigilantly. If she isn’t careful, she could find herself lost to him….
At first glance, Jack Kinsen is fascinated by Natalie Butler Cameron and her child with her most curious gift. Natalie is the beloved only daughter of Jack’s employers and he’s not only baffled by her indifference to him but mystified by her unwarranted anger. She starts to awaken something primal within him, but will his compassionate nature be enough to break down the walls she hides behind or are her wounds simply too deep to heal?
Just as Natalie’s fate begins to turn around, unknowing danger lurks on the horizon. Natalie’s disturbing past is about to make an unexpected return…and with vengeance.
Abundance is a charming novel that will sweep you away with romance, drama and suspense as it expresses the depth of raw human emotion and the strength it takes to overcome tragedy.
For Nathan Butler, committing the ultimate sin became his!
Living a life of solitude and regret changed him into someone darker, more callous.
Beneath his tough exterior, Nathan Butler has become a throbbing wound of raw anger, fighting with the aftermath of what he did to protect his family. Just when he’s convinced that he can never feel normal human emotions again, sensations start to stir within him at the sight of Jordan Tate, his sister’s best friend, and he’s not so sure he’s ready to feel them…
Jordan Tate is all too familiar with tragedy…
She’s on a mission to save Nathan Butler, her best friend’s brother, from his own condemnation. When he places a help wanted ad in the paper, she makes him an offer that’s simply too good to refuse, despite both his and her own misgivings. In doing so, she’s forced to deal with the fury that seems to be both bone-deep yet always lying just beneath the surface of his skin as well as his condescending tone and infuriating sarcasm. As if that weren’t enough, a slow, burning desire starts to smolder inside her just waiting to be unleashed…
Jordan has always considered herself a strong-willed woman with a spine of steel, but she starts to see soon enough that she may have finally met her match!
Can these two stubborn star-crossed souls overcome their despicable pasts, face their uncertain futures… and fall hopelessly in love? Or are some hurdles just too strenuous to surmount?
Let this heart-warming tale make you laugh, cry and swoon as we return to Texas and catch up with the gang in Abundance.
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