The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meet Shannon Vannatter

 Today I have the privilege of hosting fellow Arkansan author Shannon Vannatter on my blog. Shannon is the author of six novels with more on the way. She's sharing the story of her journey as an author. Three words come to mind: NEVER GIVE UP. I hope you're inspired by Shannon's journey. Thank you for sharing it, Shannon. Many blessings!

Oh! And Shannon has graciously offered to give away a copy of her latest book, Rodeo Ashes, in a drawing, so be sure and leave a comment and an email address where you can be reached.

For fifteen years I had a story in my head. Once I finally realized it was a book and got a computer, I began writing in 1999.

In 2004, six books later, I was at a writing crossroads. I have over 200 rejection letters. I belonged to 2 local writing groups and moved mountains and babysitters to attend local conferences and workshops. My brain was on overload from learning, but I wasn’t learning anything specific to my genre.

So I googled it: Christian Romance Writers Conference. And stumbled upon American Christian Romance Writers. It was in Denver, Colorado that year and sounded like writer heaven. But too far and too expensive for my stay-at-home mom life and budget. Still, I dreamed of going some day.

Early the next year, I learned that my grandmother had left all her grandchildren a savings bond. I didn’t want to pay a bill with it or go shopping. Grandma’s money should go toward something really important.

The writing conference popped into my head. The savings bond was just enough to cover the registration. I googled it. By then the name had changed to American Christian Fiction Writers and would be in Nashville, Tennessee. Only six hours away and all we’d have to come up with would be gas, food, and lodging money.

My husband and I are both geography challenged. Neither of us can read a map. We usually traveled with family members, not on our own. We started talking about making the trip and I started dreaming. We mapquested a route and decided it was doable.

My husband put in for vacation time. Always supportive, he promised to drive me there and babysit while I learned. I registered, chose my editor and agent appointments, and made travel plans. I even got an appointment with Tracy Peterson, the acquisition editor for Heartsong Presents, where I’d already sent my proposal for my book. Since I hadn’t heard anything, I figured I could just sell the book to Tracy in person. No biggie.

A month before conference, I got a rejection letter from Heartsong Presents. I nose-dived into anguish for two days, then picked myself up, and decided I’d just convince Tracy in person. No biggie.

That September, we packed our three year old and my business casual clothing and headed for Nashville. I was certain that I’d come home with a contract if not a check. Maybe both. The trip went off without a hitch and our trusty mapquest map delivered us right at the conference hotel.

When we walked in, I saw Tracy Peterson. After I picked up my jaw from the floor, I saw a friendly looking woman and asked, “Is that Tracy Peterson.”


“I’ve got an appointment with her to pitch my book tomorrow.”

“Go talk to her.”
I smoothed a hand over my road-weary hairdo. “No, I look car-lagged. I’ll wait ’til tomorrow.”

The next morning, it hit me—I didn’t know a soul there. Feeling way out of my league, I found an empty table for breakfast. Friendly writers soon filled my table. Before the day was over, I saw the friendly woman from the lobby the night before and learned her name, Margaret Daley. It sounded familiar.

After the first workshop session, I realized I barely knew the basics about writing. My brain tried to process all the new information and keep up with everything I’d learned. By my appointment time with Tracy, I was on overload. The meeting didn’t go as I planned.
I recapped my story for her and asking why she’d rejected it. She told me there wasn’t enough conflict and then brainstormed with me on how to fix it. She even agreed to take another look at it if I upped the conflict.

By the time that awesome weekend was over, I’d boo hooed on my hubby because I didn’t get a contract, much less a check. But I was hooked and vowed to move mountains and babysitters to attend the conference annually.

After we got home, I googled Margaret Daley. She’d had forty or so books published at that time. Duh. I upped the conflict in my book and sent it off. It was rejected again. I realize now, my writing wasn’t at publishable level.

In 2006, I sat down at an empty breakfast table at the conference in Dallas. Again, I didn’t know a soul. Except Margaret Daley and I doubt she remembered me. This pretty blond walked up and asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I said no. She offered her hand and said, “Hi, I’m LeNora Worth.”

My jaw hit the floor again. Lenora is my favorite Love Inspired author. I’d read countless books of hers. But I couldn’t think of one title or character. She probably thought I was lying about being a fan.

Dallas again in 2007. I got requests, followed by rejections both years.

In 2008, I finally joined ACFW, took advantage of joining a critique group, and trolled the course archives, but the conference was in Minneapolis. Way too far and expensive, but I heard about the local zone group meeting in Little Rock. I attended the meeting twice that summer and met Linda Fulkerson. A few months later, out of the blue, she e-mailed asked if I wanted a ride to Minneapolis.

My parents and husband weren’t sure at all about me jumping in a car with a woman I’d met twice for a road trip to Minneapolis, plus a hotel stay with her. My dad took me to our designated meeting place. I guess she passed muster, he let me go.

I got to meet two of my critique partners, Brenda Anderson and Lorna Seilstad, and made real friends that year. For the first time, I attended the early bird session and took Marjorie Lawson’s EDITs class. It was like the scales fell from my eyes and I knew what went in a book and what didn’t. That class was the culmination of all the others and brought my writing to a publishable level.

By then, I’d upped my conflict and managed a meeting with JoAnne Simmons, acquisition editor at Heartsong Presents. I’ll never forget when her eyes lit up over my story. She requested the full. I went home and frantically used the techniques I’d learned in the EDITs class and sent the manuscript to JoAnne. In January, I got an offer.

Without ACFW, it’s highly possible that I wouldn’t be published. Lately, things have been coming full circle. Last year, I taught at ACFW. This month, my sixth book, Rodeo Ashes release and I just signed a contract for three more Heartsong Presents titles. And that's the story that started it all, it will be book 2 in the new series. 

Shannon's latest release!

It’s never too late to start over.

Lacie Gentry, a young widow and mom, is struggling with the aftermath of her husband’s tragic death. When she bumps into former classmate Quinn Remington, her future is undecided. She accepts a job teaching kids to ride at Quinn’s neighboring ranch, hoping to revitalize her life with an old pastime but soon sees in Quinn a chance to move forward with new love. . .if she’s ready.

It’s been years since Quinn has seen lovely Lacie Gentry—the girl he always admired in high school but never came close to dating. By the time they met, Lacie was engaged to rodeo star Mel Gentry then happily married. Now Lacie’s closer than ever. The attraction is still there, but so is a secret that might end any chance of romance. 

Can they rise from the rodeo ashes?
Purchase Rodeo Ashes.

More About Shannon:

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She’s had 6 books released since 2010 with three more to come. Find her books at,,, and Her latest title, Rodeo Ashes will be available at Walmart, Kmart, and Meijers in Oct. Learn more at and

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If you're curious about the story behind the name of my blog, click on the car. :)