Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
This week we are featuring Shelley Shepard Gray! To enter to win a copy of her book, Hopeful (Avon Inspire), leave a comment on this post.
Tell us a little about your new book . . .
Hopeful is the first book in this year’s Return to Sugarcreek trilogy. The heroine is Miriam Zehr, who is a baker and server at the Sugarcreek Inn. She’s had a crush on Junior Beiler for pretty much forever. And Junior? Well, he’s got his eye on Mary Kate, the new schoolteacher in town. Mary Kate, unfortunately, is in hiding from an old boyfriend, who, even more unfortunately, is still stalking her. It’s kind of a fun romance with a hint of danger.
How can readers find you and your books?
I have a website, www.shelleyshepardgray.com and on Facebook an awful lot, too. My books are available just about everywhere, from Walmart to Barnes & Noble to www.amazon.com or Christian Book Distributers.
Anything new for you on the book horizon?
Yes! My first historical with Zondervan will release in July. It’s called Secrets of Sloane House and it’s about a girl who goes undercover as a maid in a big mansion during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It’s kind of like Downton Abbey meets an old Agatha Christie mystery.
I’ll also have Thankful and Joyful, the next two books in the Return to Sugarcreek series, Snowfall, a Christmas novella, and Redemption, a post Civil war Amish romance.
I’m so thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to write so many stories!
Why do you write?
I write because it’s my absolute favorite thing to do. I would write even if I didn’t have a book contract. It makes me happy.
What are you best known for . . . writing or otherwise?
I think most people who know me think of me as Tom’s wife, Shelley, who really loves to bake. I bake a lot!
If you could wish one thing for your future, what would it be?
I would probably wish for my two kids to continue to be happy and healthy. When they’re happy, I’m happy.
Best author moment?
One of my best author moments is walking into the Harper Collins Publishing building, telling the security guard my name, and being told to have seat, they were expecting me. It was a pretty surreal moment.
Worst author moment?
I can’t think of one particular moment, though I will say that I really don’t like revision letters and I always get revision letters. I’m always pretty hard on myself and wish that I had turned in a better book.
If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?
Since I used to teach 6th grade, I guess I would teach. If I could do anything I wanted, I would probably teach adults to read. I would love that.
Describe your ideal circumstances to write.
I can pretty much write anywhere—I’m good at blocking things out and staying on task. But I have to say that I write best in my office, at my desk, first thing in the morning.
Right this moment, what does your office look like?
As usual, it’s a mess. Years ago, I taught myself to only ‘write’ in my office. So I go in, do emails and write, then leave! Consequently, I’ve got stacks of books, papers, folders, and stuff from meetings and conferences. I also keep a spiral notebook for every book . . . so there’s tons of spiral notebooks scattered around.
How would you describe your writing style to a reader?
If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?)
Oh, that would be westerns. I love writing westerns. Something about handsome men carrying around rifles and not putting up with much makes me happy. Silly, huh?
Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it?
Oh, Suzanne. Absolutely! The second book I published was given a 1 Star review in Romantic Times Magazine. Those reviews are usually the first to come out, about a month before the book’s release. So I got to think about that review for a good long time. I was crushed and embarrassed and cried.
Then I realized that 1) it was just a bad review, not the end of the world and 2) I had already been contracted for another book, so that one was sure to be better!
Seriously, I’m kind of glad I had that bad review. It hurt, but I learned from it. It’s also made me very sympathetic to authors receiving bad reviews!
What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months?
I published my first book about 14 years ago. My first editor is now an agent for a major literacy agency. I’ve learned that it’s a fairly small ‘world’ and that it pays to be nice. People have long memories.
Five years ago I was writing for three publishing houses. I learned that writing for three houses was a mistake! All I did was work!
Last year, I learned that it was okay to have an opinion. I used to be too afraid to do anything but agree. Now I will occasionally voice an opinion. : )
Finally, in the last six months? It’s probably that I needed some help. I hired an assistant three months ago!