Today I’m delighted to host Shawna k. Williams, Desert Breeze Author of “No Other” released May 1, 2010!
Hi Shawna, it’s nice to have you today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure Regina, I’m a Christian, a wife to a wonderful man and mom to three amazing kiddos. We live on a ranch in Mena, AR, and have an extended family of cattle, horses, goats, rabbits, cats, and dogs. I’m a writer (duh…), a homeschooling mom, and I design jewelry. I’m also interested in geology and history, and I love dogs and old houses.
How long have you been writing? What’s the most rewarding aspect of it?
I’ve been writing off and on for about eight years, but I didn’t start writing for the purpose of seeking publication until a little over two years ago. I had thought about it before then, but always chickened out.
The most rewarding aspect is being able to share the story of these characters – Jakob and Meri. They’ve been with me so long, and I’ve kinda come to love them. It thrills me to think this ‘thing’ that was locked in my head for years is now something anyone can read. I feel really passionate about the characters and their stories (there’s a sequel) and I hope that others are touched by them in the way I was. I honestly don’t really feel like I made their story up so much as it was given to me.
You have a new release from Desert Breeze Publishing entitled “No Other.” For those who haven’t read the book yet, can you tell us a little about it?
“No Other” is set in the aftermath of WWII when the nation was trying to heal. That’s what Jakob Wilheimer wants too. He wants to get past the pain of his family’s internment, get on with his life, and if possible, forgive those who’ve wronged his family — including himself.
Having quit school three years earlier to look after the family business and care for his younger siblings, Jakob knows his first step back into normalcy must be to return and get his diploma. And after enduring the stigma and isolation associated with the internment camp, the awkwardness of being a twenty year old amidst a bunch of teen aged high school students shouldn’t have been a bother. What Jakob hadn’t counted on was his former schoolmate, Meri Parker, being one of his teachers.
Seeing her every day, with her life on track, uninterrupted by the war, only serves as a reminder of Jakob’s hardship. However, a school assignment brings these two in closer contact, and soon Jakob begins to see little hints of a not-so perfect life behind the facade that is Meri Parker.
As a friendship deepens into feelings of something more, these two are faced with the dilemma of their situation. To be together, means they’d have to lie to everyone around them in order to keep their relationship a secret. But Jakob also fears for Meri, and the pressure from her family who wants her to marry someone else. He’s aware of their cruelty and how they use Meri’s yearning for their affection as a means of control. Jakob is afraid that without him at her side, she’ll succumb and be lost to him forever.
And then there’s that nagging Bible verse his Grandma made him memorize all those years ago. “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
Is Jakob what Meri needs, or is he getting in the way?
What was the inspiration behind “No Other?”
The inspiration for “No Other” actually came from a dream I had eight years ago. It was bizarre, like watching a movie almost. And for the next six months I kept thinking about it, trying to fill in all the gaps between scenes. It eventually grew to be so complicated that I had to write it down. After playing with it off and on for six years, I finally decided to try and turn it into something publishable, and began studying the craft of writing, joining critique groups, and submitting short stories to rack up a few publishing credits. “No Other” was inspired from the first part of that dream, when the characters were young. All the details came later as I researched and got to know them better.
How did you go about selecting the names for your characters? (laughs) Or do they let you know their names?
You know, I honestly don’t remember. The names have just always been there, so I guess the characters named themselves.
Could you share a little of your work methods with us: do you plot your stories in advance, or just start writing and see where the story goes?
I have a general idea of the story, and at first I write a summary. Then I start my first draft which is a rambling dreadful thing. Seriously, pages of meandering, especially in regards to the characters emotions, or motivations — that sort of thing. It’s like a giant therapy session, and I don’t finish it. When I get to a point where I feel it’s too directionless, I go back and start the rewrite. Usually by this time I have a better sense of what my characters need. I’ll write out goals, chapter by chapter, and do my best to convey these things in each chapter in order to keep the story moving forward to its conclusion. At this phase I’ll finish the book, because I know enough to be able to tie everything together. Then I go through it again, looking for more ways to weave in a message, deepen characters, clean up tidbits and the likes.
I see you have two other releases coming up in 2010 from Desert Breeze. Congratulations on that. Would you like to tell us about them a bit? Are they parts of a series?
“In All Things” is the sequel to “No Other” — ten years later. While “No Other” is a complete story, if you look, you’ll see there are some loose ends that are left unclear. One has to do with a promise Jakob makes to his rival, and another has to do with Meri’s salvation. You know she’s headed that direction, but when the book ends she hasn’t committed her life to Christ yet. The theme to “In All Things” is similar to “No Other” but it deals with unresolved issues from a different phase in life, and adds to them with the complexities of family and careers, and substitutes for God. “No Other” mainly focuses on Jakob and Meri — primarily because much of their interaction is in secret – but “In All Things” involves Jakob’s entire family a lot more.
It’s been an emotionally taxing story to write because there’s so much to grasp. I find myself praying daily, “Lord, help me tell this story.” But I find that there’s also so much to love about it, and things I never expected to explore – one of them being how events in the first book affected Jakob’s youngest sister, Esther. See, I just gave you something to think about if you read the book.
My other book is called “Orphaned Hearts”. I love this story. It started as a novella, but it was accepted for publication on the agreement that I would lengthen it – which I’m working on now – and had wanted to do even before it was under contract. After writing the novella I saw that there was so much potential with the characters — David, Sadie and Caleb — and I, myself, wanted to know them better.
The story is set in Arkansas, my hometown state, in the 1930s. Though the character of David is not based on my granddad, the story was inspired by him. He grew up in an orphanage during this time and his experiences there affected him throughout his life. Orphanages of the day weren’t warm and caring places. At least not the one my granddad grew up in.
David is a man who has severe burn scars from the same fire that left him orphaned. His scars are such that they’re hidden under his clothes, but as a child he was ridiculed, and he believes his disfigurement was the reason no one ever adopted him.
As an adult, he’s a minister who works closely with an orphanage, and he takes a special interest in Caleb, a child who lost his arm in the accident that left him orphaned.
Sadie, is a woman who lost her fiancé years earlier, and then devoted herself to her ailing father. Upon his death she finds that she’s alone, and believes she will stay that way because she’s too old to marry.
The story is mainly about Sadie and David, and how they both seek to find a home for themselves through Caleb. You’ll see. Just thinking about this one warms my heart, so hopefully I can bring those same emotions to the reader through my words. Once again, I’m praying, “Lord, help me tell this story.”
What is your next major writing goal?
Don’t laugh, but I want to write science fiction. I know, it’s quite a bit different than historical, but I’ve always loved scifi and have the working of a story swirling about. While I’m at it, maybe I should try my hand at time travel, then I can have both genres in the same book. Not a bad idea actually!
I don’t think that will be my next project though. I have another idea brewing along the lines of, “the right guy at the wrong time, and the wrong guy at the right time, and everything according to God’s timing.” Make sense? Lol! Not sure of the time period this will take place though.
We all can identify with that on some level, Shawna! For now, what do you consider your most significant writing accomplishment to date?
Definitely “No Other” and “In All Things.” Both of these stories are inspired by that ridiculous dream I had eight years ago. And after living with these characters in my head for so long I’m just thrilled to be able to share them. THRILLED!
Is there someone who has been a big influence on your life? Why?
Hmm…this question is hard. Certainly my family. That goes without saying. I’ve been very blessed to have so much support and love around me. There have been a lot of someones though. While that dream I keep mentioning was the catalyst for my writing career, everything I write, and the events that have brought me to this point in my life have all been influenced by someone. A few things I can think of were just a brief encounter. It’s a mosaic, really. I feel very grateful to the people who’ve nudged me along the way. Most of them know who they are. Love you guys!
If you want to know about authors though, Beth Moore and Francine Rivers. These ladies touched me with their talent at different times when I really needed it. God put them there.
Thank you for sharing with us, Shawna. Would you consider returning again in the future for a visit?
Everyone, Shawna is giving away a freshwater pearl/inspirational bracelet, a Kindle download of her book (or other ebook format depending on the preference of the winner), and a signed postcard of the coverart. Just for commenting today! Thank you, Shawna!
And there’s a contest she is running throughout the month of May where you can enter as many times as you want in accordance with the rules, which are posted on her blog, http://shawnawilliams-oldsmobile.blogspot.com/p/no-other-prize-drawing-details.html.
There are three prizes; Good, Great and Grand, and they include things like Amazon gift certificates, a sterling silver-gold overlay locket, more freshwater pearl jewelry, “No Other” coverart posters and notebooks, goatsmilk soap and lotion (we live on a ranch, remember) honey soap, and postcards, not just of the book’s cover, but of her daughter’s beautiful photography work. You’ll also receive a copy of the short story, “What Happened Next” which was derived from a funny childhood experience of her character, Jakob, one afternoon as his family spiffed up for a photo on their front porch. This story has been published in two journals, and Shawna delights in being able to share it.
Everyone who comments today gets an entry, and if you can answer this question, you get another. “What does the German phrase, “Eine Verletzung kann nicht heilen, wenn man dauernd daran kratzt,” mean? Email me at email@example.com. The answer can be found in the first chapter of her book, viewable at http://noother-shawnawilliams.blogspot.com/,
or http://www.freado.com/read/6928/no-other-by-shawna-k-williams or in the free sample download from Kindle .
More about Shawna K. Williams at
Here’s the code to Shawna’s trailer:<object width=”480″ height=”385″><param value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/AVxeR7yeztw&hl=en_US&fs=1&”></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/AVxeR7yeztw&hl=en_US&fs=1&” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”480″ height=”385″></embed></object>
And here’s the link to the Kindle edition of “No Other” on Amazon:
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