The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Dave and Neta Jackson is Angela Chesnut! Please email my assistant Christen with your mailing address. (email@example.com)
This week Shannon Dittemore is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of her book, Angel Eyes leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
Hi Suzanne! Thank you so much for having me. I’m married to a coffee roasting addict and I have two beautiful children. My son is 7 and my daughter is 3. They like that I write stories, but they’d rather have me snuggled on the couch with them, so I write when I can. Often when they’re sleeping or when my husband’s home. When deadlines get too close, my parents and sisters help as well. I’m very blessed in that way.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I’m a speculative junkie. I like all those ‘what if’ questions and the journey of examining the possible answers. I’m open though and I’ll read just about anything. Bookshelves are interesting things these days; genres are crossing all over the place. I couldn’t be happier about that.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
When I was in first grade, I won some award for writing a story about a parakeet who went missing and was later found feasting on a bag of bird feed. The hysterical thing is that I have a bird phobia and yet continue to write about things with wings. But, that might have been the first time I realized I had a knack for it. I didn’t start dreaming of publication until much later. Really, I thought I’d be acting. I thought my creativity would work itself out on stage and I hope to do more of that as my kids get older. Shooting for publication was a decision I made one night while walking a fussy newborn around the house. I wanted my job to be something I was passionate about and I’m passionate about stories.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
It was November of 2008 when I decided to go for it. Angel Eyes was published in May of 2012, so three and a half years.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
I generally write at home. I need my cave, my boards, my notebooks, my research. It’s hard to haul all that to a coffee shop. I also like candles and while I don’t always listen to music while I write, I like listening to movie soundtracks. I just discovered the James Horner Pandora station and I’m in heaven. Best writing music ever.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
I joined Inspire Christian Writers after I finished my first or second draft of Angel Eyes and I can’t tell you how helpful that was. My crit group taught me about POV and their red pens helped me tons. I owe a lot to those ladies. Reading, and reading widely, has really helped as well. I like studying how a story unfolds and why characters do what they do. That’s been the greatest help to the business of sitting and typing, and let’s be honest—nothing gets done if your behind’s not in the chair.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? (Explain your answer)
I didn’t expect the constant emotional upheaval. So much excitement, so much terror, so much happiness, so much, so much, so much. It’s taken some getting used to, but God’s helping me.
What are your biggest distractions?
It’s probably unfair to call them distractions, but I’m pulled away from my work most often by my children. Still, I chose this road. I wanted to work from home so I could be here with them, so I don’t begrudge them it. Oh. And the internet. Yeah. That’s all shiny and stuff.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
I’m going to be very predictable here, I think. Signing the three-book deal with Thomas Nelson was definitely one of the best moments. The Angel Eyes book launch also lands high on the list. My friends and family made that crazy special. The low point would have been the first negative review. I was working so hard on the next book in the series, that I don’t think I was as prepared as I could have been. Again, God’s helping me here.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
Least: Deadlines! They make me all antsy. And they never ever go away. Most: Stories. I like telling them and I really like reading them, so that the job of doing both falls squarely on my shoulders, is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I had the opportunity to work with two agents on my road to publication. My first, Jason Pinter, got my manuscript to Thomas Nelson. When he left the agency, I was taken on by the lovely Holly Root and she made sure the deal got done. I thank both of them. They got me seen and they got me signed. And the advice and direction an agent brings is invaluable.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Read. Lots. Write what you love because if you get it contracted, you’ll be in those pages for quite some time. You’ll spend hours and hours in the world you’ve created and with the characters you’ve penned. If you don’t truly love them, you’re in for a long road.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to see crazy stuff like angels, demons? No? Oh, well, neither had Brielle, but when the boy next door showed her the invisible, her world changed forever.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
Right now, I’m drafting the last book in the Angel Eyes trilogy. I’m guessing it’ll be just about ready to go by the time book two, Broken Wings, hits the shelf in February. After that, I don’t know. I have a YA fantasyish book in progress that I’d like to get back to.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
I’m everywhere, I think:
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)