Monday, January 21, 2013

Interview with Shanna Hatfield, Author of Western Romance



Deanna and Louise are visiting Author Shanna Hatfield at the Rockin’ R Ranch located near Burns, Oregon, in the sagebrush covered hills of the Eastern Oregon High Desert.  

Our hero Ty, from Learnin' The Ropes, is from Portland and has never been anywhere rural before, let alone somewhere so far removed from his idea of civilization. The ranch setting includes a yellow Victorian  house complete with gingerbread trim and a picket fence, a bunkhouse, the usual barns and outbuildings, and a zealous Kuvasz dog named Baby who basically decides who stays or goes on the place.   

Come join us as we don our chaps, slap saddles on the horses and rides some trails in this beautiful country with Shanna.


Reader’s Haven: Hi Shanna! Boy, it's pretty out this way. Tell us a bit about yourself  that our readers might not know.

Shanna:  Although I grew up on a farm as a tomboy, somewhere along the way I morphed into a real girly-girl. I’m a completely hopeless romantic and my husband, lovingly referred to as Captain Cavedweller, would tell you I’m one of the sappiest people on the planet. When I’m not working or writing, I enjoy baking way more than I should and plan themed parties that generally never make it further than as ideas I share on my blog.



Reader’s Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Shanna: I grew up with a love of books and reading. My imagination has always been very active and I used to make up all kinds of stories when I was young. After getting my degree in communications, I spent almost ten years as a newspaper journalist before I switched gears to marketing, but even then I kept dabbling with writing, doing some freelance articles. In January 2010, I read a book that was just awful. There wasn’t anything redeeming about it and I decided if it could get published, I should really give writing a novel a try. It was something I often thought about doing “someday.” Someday finally arrived.

Reader’s Haven: Please share a bit about your new release, The Christmas Bargain, without giving away any spoilers.

Shanna:  I have two new releases that came out in the fall. The Christmas Bargain was my first attempt in writing historical fiction. Set in Eastern Oregon, it tells the story of a well-to-do banker and the woman he accepts in lieu of payment from her deadbeat father. It was a lot of fun to do the research for this story and I quickly fell in love with the characters. They are strong, loving and likeable. Filly (the heroine) can be quite plucky! The Cowboy’s Autumn Fall is the fourth installment in the Grass Valley Cowboys series. Set in the rural community of Grass Valley, Oregon, the contemporary western series highlights the adventures of the Thompson family. This book tells the story of fun-loving, good-looking Brice Morgan, a friend of the youngest Thompson brother, and his fascination with Bailey Bishop, a cousin to the Thompsons. She’s a paleontologist with a laser focus on her career and no interest in romance, especially with a cowboy.

 
Reader’s Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Shanna:  Nope. As different as it might be, the name I write under is my very own.

Reader’s Haven: What types of hero or heroine do you like best?

Shanna:  Strong, kind, flawed – the ones that seem more realistic.

Reader’s Haven: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Shanna:  I work full-time as a marketing director at a boutique hotel, so a typical day for me is putting in a nine to ten hour day at the office. Captain Cavedweller and I carpool most days, so I bounce ideas off him on our drive to and from work. As soon as we get home, we make dinner then I bury myself in my home office for the rest of the evening. He checks on me periodically to make sure I’m still alive and restock my supply of chocolate, a critical ingredient to the creative process. I do a lot of writing on the weekends when I can hole up in my office for long, uninterrupted stretches of time.

Reader’s Haven: LOL  If he keeps you in chocolate, then he's a keeper! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Shanna:  Although I like to think they are all different, it’s important to me they all have happy endings. In some way, all of my books carry a theme of overcoming – challenges, fears, obstacles. I think most people have something they are working to overcome or conquer. My characters are no different, which I hope helps make them real to my readers.

Reader’s Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Shanna:  Depending on what else is going on in my world to distract me, I can typically hammer out a first draft of a story in about three weeks. The next five to six weeks are spent editing and re-writing. I have three proofreaders who go through each story for me during that editing time frame. My goal is to spend about two months on a book from start to finish.




Reader’s Haven: Do you have to be alone to write?

Shanna:  I don’t have to be alone, but it certainly helps cut down on the distractions. If Captain Cavedweller and I are on a car trip, I pop in my earbuds and type away on my laptop. I can sit and write almost anywhere, but I know I do a better job of writing when I’m in my office by myself, completely immersed in the “writing zone.”

Reader’s Haven: How do you go about naming characters?

Shanna:  This is such a fun part of the writing process and one I love. If I had kids, they would all have oddball monikers because I like names that are out of the ordinary. I actually keep a list of names that I like. If I come across one that strikes my fancy or I hear one that sounds like a great character name, I add it to the list. When I start thinking about characters, I go to the list and see if any names would be a good fit. I’ve also been known to go to websites like babynames.com and browse through their lists. I usually have an idea of what letter of the alphabet I want the name to start with, even if I’m still searching for the right name.

Reader’s Haven: Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Shanna:  As a very visual person, I need to see in full-color what my character looks like while I’m writing. The process I’ve been using that works well for me is to first come up with a basic character idea. Once I know the character is tall with dark hair and blue eyes (for example), I find a picture that fits the basic description and I build on the character from there. It is such a big help to have that visual to draw from when I need some inspiration.

Reader’s Haven: How do you pick locations for your stories?

Shanna:  So far, my stories have all taken place either in Oregon or Washington because I grew up and live in the Pacific Northwest. The Grass Valley Cowboys series came about because I was on a weekend road trip and drove through the town and thought “Wow! This would make a great setting for a story.” By the time I got home from the trip, I had the first few chapters of the first book sketched out in my head. The Christmas Bargain takes place in a town that was a bustling stop along the stage route through Eastern Oregon, but is now a ghost town. I wanted a town that wasn’t close to a big city, one that had something to offer the residents who lived there, one that had some interesting history. Hardman fit the bill. Other locations were chosen because I was familiar with the area and thought it would work well with the story line I was developing. The Women of Tenacity series is set in the fictional town of Tenacity that only exists in the sparkly recesses of my brain.

Reader’s Haven: What are you working on now and what should readers be looking forward to from you in the future?



Shanna: The fifth and final book in the Grass Valley Cowboys series, The Cowboy’s New Heart, is my current project. Readers can look for it around the first of April. When it’s finished, I’ll delve back into some historical romance writing, and I’ve already got plans for another holiday book or two.

Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find out more about you and your books? 

Shanna: My blog is a great place to keep tabs on my latest projects and book release dates.

My books are available on:
Apple (iBooks)
 
Reader’s Haven: Where can readers find additional details about your books or characters?

Shanna:  I’m a Pinterest junkie. Readers can find boards for each of my books with all sorts of fun and crazy pins. If you’re a fan of the Grass Valley series, check out the pictures I used to create the characters, ogle pins of Wranglers, see what the Triple T Ranch house looks like, find recipes, and even some pins with fashions the characters wore in the stories.

Web links:
 
Also, I’d like to give away copies of "Learnin’ The Ropes" to two lucky winners. One e-book and one printed/signed copy. Enter through the Rafflecopter below and good luck!



Learnin’ The Ropes

Out of work mechanic Ty Lewis is homeless and desperate to find work. Answering a classified ad for a job in Harney County, Oregon, Ty accepts when he is offered the position. Saying goodbye to his sister and his life in Portland, he heads off to the tiny community of Riley to begin a new adventure, unsure about his boss Lex Ryan, a man he has yet to speak with or meet.

Lexi Ryan, known to her ranch hands and neighbors as Lex Jr., leaves a successful career in Portland to keep the Rockin’ R Ranch running smoothly after the untimely death of her father. It doesn’t take long to discover her father did a lot of crazy things during the last few months before he died, like hiding half a million dollars that Lexi can’t find.

Ty and Lexi are both in for a few surprises as he arrives at the Rockin’ R Ranch and begins learnin’ the ropes.

Excerpt 

     “I haven’t been sulking,” Ty said. “And I can’t date you anymore.”

     “Why not? Do you find me that disgusting? Unappealing? Annoying? What is it about me that’s driving you away?” Lexi yelled, slapping at Ty’s chest. She’d been down this road with men before. Eventually something turned them away from her, usually her heritage, although she wouldn’t expect that from Ty. “What, Ty? Just tell me!”

     “Nothing, babe,” Ty said, gathering her into his arms and giving in to his desire to kiss her, just one more time. He devoured her lips, drank deeply from the honeyed sweetness that was all Lexi, and felt drunk from the experience. Finally breaking the contact, he put a hand to the back of her head and pulled her against his chest, holding her close. “There isn’t a single thing about you that I don’t find appealing. You drive me wild, Lexi Jo Ryan. Every laugh, every smile, every toss of your raven hair, every swing of that perfect posterior, every touch from your hand, and definitely every kiss. You make me forget anything else exists.”


Surprise! An additional excerpt from Learnin' The Ropes. Thanks Shanna!



“I overheard a couple of guys talking outside the cafĂ©. What they were saying wasn’t very nice about you and me…us,” Ty said, trying to keep from getting angry all over again. “I don’t want people to think I’m dating you because of who your dad was or how much money you have. The rumor seems to be that I charmed my way into your good graces just to get an easy ride. That isn’t true, Lexi. I don’t care if you’re penniless. I …”

“You what?” Lexi asked.

“I wouldn’t do that,” Ty said, still trying to keep from revealing his heart to Lexi. If he did, he was afraid there’d be no turning back and he just couldn’t do that to her. He didn’t want her to feel obligated to him in any way.

“I know you wouldn’t,” Lexi said, hugging him and resting her head against his chest. She could feel his heart pounding fast beneath her ear. “I never thought you would, Ty. Why are you wasting so much time and effort in worrying about what other people think? It isn’t any of your business, anyway. The only person you need to worry about is you.”

“I know that, but what other people think can sure make things hard or easy on a person and I don’t want things to be hard for you.”

Lexi took Ty’s face in her hands and breathed in his scent. “Look, buckaroo, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’ve spent the last month making us both miserable in some gallant, though completely idiotic effort to protect me from gossiping nitwits?”

“When you say it like that it sounds stupid,” Ty said, growing agitated. He needed out of this shed. He needed Lexi out of his arms. He needed… to kiss her so very badly.

“What’s stupid is you letting this go on for a month when we could have had this conversation the day you got upset.  So, now that I have assured you the gossiping doesn’t bother me at all, are you done sulking?”

“I haven’t been sulking,” Ty argued, turning around and knocking a shovel and rake off the wall. He caught the handles before they smacked into Lexi. It was dangerous to be in the shed locked up in close proximity and that danger had little to do with garden tools and much more to do with his ability to maintain his control with Lexi. “And I can’t date you anymore.”

“Why not? Do you find me that disgusting? Unappealing? Annoying? What is it about me that’s driving you away?” Lexi yelled, slapping at Ty’s chest. She’d been down this road with men before. Eventually something turned them away from her, usually her heritage, although she wouldn’t expect that from Ty. “What, Ty? Just tell me!”

“Nothing, babe,” Ty said, gathering her into his arms and giving in to his desire to kiss her, just one more time. He devoured her lips, drank deeply from the honeyed sweetness that was all Lexi, and felt drunk from the experience. Finally breaking the contact, he put a hand to the back of her head and pulled her against his chest, holding her close. “There isn’t a single thing about you that I don’t find appealing. You drive me wild, Lexi Jo Ryan. Every laugh, every smile, every toss of your raven hair, every swing of that perfect posterior, every touch from your hand, and definitely every kiss. You make me forget anything else exists.”

“Ty,” Lexi breathed his name on a whisper, on a prayer. “Then what’s the problem?”

“Me. The problem is me,” Ty said, letting out long sigh. “There isn’t a single thing, not one, that I can ever give you that you don’t already have or can’t buy yourself. I can’t provide for you. I can’t offer you anything. Except me.”

“That is the only thing I’m ever going to want from you, Ty. Just you. I don’t care about that other stuff. All I want is you.”

“Lexi,” Ty said, lowering his head to hers again, nearing the point of surrender.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shanna! Thank you again for visiting with us this week.
    Readers, we've added another excerpt for "Learnin' The Ropes'. Be sure to enter through the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an eBook or signed copy!
    ~Louise

    ReplyDelete