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.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Ann Gabhart is Romance Girl! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (amy@litfusegroup.com)

This week is Shelley Shepard Gray is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Shelley’s latest book, Grace, 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?

I’ve been married for 21 years, and am on the verge of being an empty nester. Our oldest goes to the University of Alabama, and our youngest is a senior in high school. Where did the time go? I feel very fortunate to be able to write full time.

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…

Currently, I am writing Amish Inspirational Romances for Avon Inspire, and Western Historical Romances for Abingdon Press.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?  

My husband actually helped me get started writing. Soon after we moved to Cincinnati, he found an announcement in our local paper stating that the Ohio Valley chapter of Romance Writers of America was having a meeting right near us. He encouraged me to go. I was scared to death, but am so glad I went! During one of my first meetings, I met Heather Webber, one of my critique partners. We’ve been partners, with several other women, for ten years now.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published? 

I published the third manuscript I wrote. It was for a small library publisher called Avalon. I used to write for Avalon under my maiden name, Shelley Galloway. I still write for Harlequin American Romance as Shelley Galloway, too.

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 write best in the morning, and I do best when I give myself page numbers to complete for the day. Hmm…I almost always play solitaire before I start, and lately I’ve started listening to music. My little wiener dog sits by me, too.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader? 

The best things that  helped me were being in a critique group and writing almost every day. By now I’ve written over 30 novels, and I can see where I’ve improved.

What are your biggest distractions? 

Right now, email and Facebook are my biggest distractions. I’m by myself in my basement, so it’s always so tempting to ‘chat’ with other people online.

What is the role and importance of an agent? 

I absolutely love my agent. She’s been with me almost the whole time I’ve been published. For me, she helps me guide my career. She’s also the most supportive. She is also wonderful about calling people and checking up on things for me-and for putting things in perspective. I think all of need someone working with us in our careers. She also knows way more people in the business than I do-and therefore has been instrumental in knowing what books to pitch.

What advice would you give to new writers? 

Try to think of your career in the long term, not just what book you’d like to immediately sell. Also, remember that a rejection is only a rejection of the book or proposal, not of you as a person. Finally, the most important job of a writer is to write. If you are so busy blogging, organizing, and volunteering on committees that you can’t work on a book, it might be time to reprioritize things.

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.  

GRACE is a Christmas romance novel about two people who come unannounced to a cozy bed and breakfast looking for an escape. It’s also about God’s Grace, and His influence in our lives.

What’s on the book horizon for you? 

Next year, I’ll have a new series out with Avon Inspire. It’s an Amish series set in Ohio called Families of Honor. I’ll also have the first book out with Abingdon Press. It’s called A Texan’s Promise.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books? 

www.shelleyshepardgray.com and on Facebook.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

Thank you for the interview! I’m honored to be here!

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