Today on Author on the Couch:
An Intimate Look Inside the Minds of Authors
I conduct a session with
Shelly will be giving away a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card. I’ll tell you how to be eligible at the end of the blog.
Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.
Shelly: I think it has to be my one and only car accident. I was barely a month over 18, and was driving my younger brother and cousin to a movie. Not more than a couple of blocks from home, we were in a serious accident while turning left that rolled and totaled my small truck, and sent all three of us to hospital. I walked away with a couple of tiny cuts and bruises, whereas my brother suffered a broken pelvis. It could have been much worse.
I felt I’d almost killed my little brother and cousin, and this coupled with the fear I might do it again made me refuse to touch my driver’s license for close to a year. Even today, sometimes I find it difficult to be a passenger in a car. Fear lingers, even just talking about the accident, and it comes back when I least expect it, like the first time I had to drive my six-month old to a doctor’s appointment.
And yet, the accident also made me realize my priorities in life lay with family and friends – those I’d injured, and those who helped me cope. I learned how love and passion for something can overcome fear, since it was for a volunteer position I wanted so much that I faced my fear and got back behind the wheel. I learned that no forgiveness is harder than forgiving yourself. And I believe maybe, as horrible as some things are, they just are. The universe sends events into our life with no malice, but merely as an opportunity to become the people we’re really meant to be. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at overcoming fear in all areas of my life, but some days this is more true than others. 😉
Me: Wow. Wow. Wow. I love how you look at things. So powerful that I needed to create a quotable!
What personality trait of yours helps you most an author?
Shelly: Stubbornness. I refuse to give up or turn-back, and to keep moving forward. Sometimes, when things get really hard, it’s stubbornness that sits me down in front of the computer to battle the words again. And eventually, it’s enough to get me through to better times.
Me: In this industry stubbornness is a MUST.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most an author?
Shelly: High standards. I hold myself to very high standards, which can sometimes make me my own worst enemy and harshest critic. This, coupled with a stubborn nature, can cause me some grief, especially when I can’t let go of my own high standards to just create with less concern about the quality of the end product.
Me: What was your high point as a writer?
Shelly: I was over the moon (almost literally!) when in 2014 I got the call that I was a Golden Heart Finalist. I’d promised myself that it would be my last time entering after trying…well, I’m honestly not certain how many times I entered. 😉 It was like a last-ditch effort, and somehow, it happened. I think I floated for days, still not quite believing my writing had qualified me when so many very talented writers enter that contest each year.
Me: We can’t talk high points without talking about low points. What was your low point as a writer?
Shelly: Sadly, I don’t think this happens just once, but in something of a cyclical fashion. Ironically, I felt awful about my writing in the months leading up to learning I as a finalist in the GH. When the rejections start adding up, or I start that awful habit of comparing my path to those of other writers, well, it gives my inner editor fuel to berate me and my writing. In 2014, even before that unexpected surprise of the GH final, I realized one of the things I was missing was outside feedback: without a steady critique partner, it was easier to see only the negative aspects of my writing and nothing positive. In dark times, I’ve also written out my list of reasons why I continue to write, even when it seems hopeless, and one of those reasons is always to show my daughter that it’s worth fighting for your dreams, especially when it’s difficult. How could I teach her that without living it? Now, when I hit those dark spots, I trust in my wonderful CP’s opinion that maybe I don’t suck as much as I think. And I keep writing, since sometimes, that’s the only way to get to the other side.
Me: I love your strategy of listing all the reasons you continue to write. That “fight for your dreams” is so important. Every day in my office, I see people who poo poo away their dreams in order to be more practical. Really what they’re doing is killing their potential for happiness.
What’s the most painful rejection or review you’ve ever received? How did you get over it?
Shelly: I think possibly the worst rejection I’ve had was because at first, it seemed so hopeful: an editor was interested in my work and wanted to champion it with her publisher. I was carefully over the moon. 😉 However, it was less than a week after when I got the rejection: the acquisitions board didn’t agree with the editor. What made it better was that the editor wrote such a kind rejection, I could tell she actually felt terrible about the news.
As an unpublished author, sometimes it’s the rejections with each step closer to “yes” that are the hardest (just like those “we really liked it, but we just didn’t love it” replies.) On the negative side, it’s like almost grabbing the golden cup…only to have it dissolve into sand between your fingers. But, on the positive, as I did with that rejection at the acquisitions table, I have to believe that every “no” puts you one step closer to the “yes” I want. Besides which, even getting that far means you’ve come some distance in your career already, and that can’t be all bad.
Me: What book do you wish you’d written?
Shelly: There are a lot of wonderful books out there, but currently, I really wish I’d written FIREBIRD by Susanna Kearsley. Not only is it well-written with this complicated double-plot that all hits the plot points simultaneously, PLUS it makes you want to know what happens next, and the ending actually made me cry and search the book to see if there were any more chapters. Giving readers a satisfying and intriguing read, and tapping into their emotions is my goal as a writer.
Me: What’s your life motto?
Shelly: My life motto is: “It is as it is.” It’s something I’ve embraced because I’m a bit of a control-freak, and sometimes rail against things I can’t possibly control, like how other people react or feel, sometimes just life in general. It reminds me that although there are some things I do have control and influence over, the ones I can’t I have to let go. Twisting myself out of shape, holding onto anger or resentment, none of that actually does anything to change what is. Sometimes, you just have to accept and move on—hopefully to something you can control.
Me: “It is as it is.” That’s so simple. And so hard. One of the greatest sources of human suffering is ‘arguing with reality’. Acceptance of reality brings us peace. Acceptance does not mean we condone bad things. It means we change the things we can and we let go of the things we can’t.
Let’s switch gears and talk about your writing. Tell me about your book FROZEN STAR.
The library is the only place Meredith Lefroy has ever felt at ease on her home planet of Pemberley. A society modeled after Jane Austen’s books, Pemberley’s Regency mores don’t exactly embrace an intelligent, knife-wearing, career-oriented woman with no desire to wed. But when Jason Blayne –space pirate, family friend, and the only man Meredith has ever loved—strolls into her library, Meredith knows she has the chance for adventure…and just maybe a life where she’s truly free.
The last thing Jason needs is a too-clever-for-her-own-good librarian aboard his ship, especially when he’s just joined the rebellion against Pemberley that might throw humanity and the solar system into a fourth world war. And he definitely underestimated the trouble a librarian can ignite, both with the rebellion and in his heart.
Even as they flee authorities and skate the thin line of peace between the rebels and Pemberley, they discover not only a love they’ve both longed for all their lives, but also a deadly conspiracy that may change the destiny of humanity forever.
Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph from your newest release.
What I love about this paragraph is that my protagonist Meredith gets to be even more sarcastic and self-deprecating than me. Plus, I think it hints at a moment many of us have felt: where we desperately want to deny something is true, even though we know we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and potentially hurt. Still, this is a romance, so they have to overcome eventually. 🙂
“There was something deeply wrong with me—perhaps too steady a diet of romances and a malicious streak of optimism within my spirit—that made me hope for just a moment that Jason would change his mind. That I’d turn and he’d tell me Gracie wasn’t his lover, I’d merely misunderstood. That he admired who I’d become. That we weren’t separated by a great divide of ideology and society.”
Me: I super duper love your phrase “malicious streak of optimism”. Wow.
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