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Monday, August 12, 2013

Writing a Novel by June Shaw

Welcome to Author Expressions. Our guest blogger today is well-published author June Shaw. She is going to discuss how and why she became a writer.

“What made you decide to become a writer?” is a question I’m often asked during talks about writing or when I’m signing my books. My answer—“A splinter.”

I wasn’t fortunate enough to have anyone ever teach me creative writing, but while I was in ninth grade, my English teacher said he was sending me to a literary rally for English I. I’d take a test that was mainly grammar and also need to write a paragraph in case there was a tie. To practice writing, he told me to write a paragraph about a splinter.

His topic assured me that he was a boring man. I described a splinter using perfect grammar and brought it to his desk. “This is boring,” he said. “Yes, but you told me to write it.” And then he wrote a magic word: “Ouch!” He told me to take it from the splinter’s point of view. Somebody just sat on it. Wow, I thought. A writer can do that? She can make up any thing or person and make it say or do anything she wants? One day I’m going to do that. Be a writer.

No matter that it wasn’t until I had five children who’d begun giving me grandchildren, and my aging mother had moved in with me that I finally sold a novel. I did it! What happened was I’d kept the desire after I won: ) that literary rally. I was busy throughout school, married young, had five children, and became widowed when they were small. Often I’d recall that splinter and know I wanted to be a writer, but life intervened. I finished college, started teaching, and finally discovered time to write and sell a few small pieces. Much more time passed before I found time to read and write and rewrite novels—and now I have nine of them published!  

Now I proudly represent Louisiana on the board of Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter and am the Published Author Liaison of Romance Writers of America’s South Louisiana Chapter. My children, grandchildren, and squeeze Bob are really proud of me, and I am content.

ABOUT MY BOOKS: I sold my series of humorous mysteries to Five Star, which produced them in hardcover. To my surprise, the first one, RELATIVE DANGER, was nominated for a David award for Best Mystery of the Year and garnered excellent reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and many others. The next books, KILLER COUSINS and DEADLY REUNION, were also well received. The series features a spunky widow who “thinks” she wants to avoid her hunky lover so she can rediscover herself. But he opens Cajun restaurants wherever she travels—and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men.

RELATIVE DANGER was just released as an e-book. KILLER COUSINS and DEADLY REUNION will soon follow. In November Harlequin will reprint DEADLY REUNION in paperback, which they’d done with others.

RED SKIES revolves around three generations in a story of secrets, lies, lust, love, and redemption. Everyone asked me to, so I wrote a book about my mom. Many readers tell me NORA 102 ½: A Lesson on Aging Well is the most inspirational book they’ve read in a long, long time. And then my youngest granddaughter asked me to write a book with her. We’ve sold many copies of HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR PET GHOST, and now an editor has a YA that both her young teen sisters and I wrote and hope she’ll accept. I’ve written other books, too—and loved every minute with each of them!

I appreciate your interest in reading about my writing journey and thank Jacqueline for inviting me here. I do hope you’ll check out my books and see my mom dancing and me holding an alligator….and I love to hear from readers!   www.juneshaw.com

Comments or questions for June are welcome!


19 comments:

Patricia Gligor said...

June,
Your "journey" to become a published author reminds me a bit of mine. I too let "life" get in the way for more years than I care to think about. :)
I got the idea for my first mystery novel, "Mixed Messages," seven years before I actually started to write it. It took another ten before it was accepted by a publisher. Holding it in my hands was one of the biggest thrills I've ever had. I have a second novel out now and I'm about to send the third off to my publisher.
Happy Writing!

June Shaw said...

Patricia, holding your first book, especially after waiting so many years, is a terrific feeling. Good luck with your next one!

Alice Duncan said...

Fascinating, June! Love your teacher's suggestion about writing from the POV of the splinter! Very creative.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Alice, and it was so exciting. I believe what excited me was that it was my first exposure to modern, humorous writing, which I found great.

D'Ann said...

A splinter! I love it! Congrats on your success!

June Shaw said...

Thanks, D'Ann! It's all so much fun!

Pat Marinelli said...

June what an awesome story. I love the idea of a splinter's POV. I also want to read How to Take Care of Your Pet Ghost. That title is priceless and very intriguing. Wishing you well in your sales. I'm headed to Amazon now to check out your books.

Susan Oleksiw said...

I think it's fascinating what opens up someone's imagination. Your teacher sounds wonderful--to have given you the gift of a future.

And your titles are terrific.

Mary Fremont Schoenecker said...

I admire your tenacity, hanging on to your dream and making it become a reality. My motto has always been "Never put a Date On Your Dreams.I often quote it when speaking about my books. You are to be admired, June.

Kaye George said...

I love this splinter story! I just read it outloud to my granddaughter. Good for you, June!!!

June Shaw said...

Pat, thanks so much -- especially for going to check out my books!

June Shaw said...

Susan, thank you for the compliment about my titles.

June Shaw said...

Mary, you're right about not putting a date on your dreams. What a great quote! I sure needed to hang on to mine for a long time before they took hold.

June Shaw said...

Kaye, how nice that you read about the splinter to your granddaughter. Yes, that one word -- "Ouch!" -- became my inspiration. You never know.

June Shaw said...

Alice, don't know why my response to your post said I was Anonymous: )
What I believe is that the POV of the splinter introduced me to modern, humorous writing. I'd never seen that before.

Earl Staggs said...

A delightful story about how and why you became a writer, June. Many of us have similar stories about how the writing bug was inside us but it took a long time to bring it out. I'm glad you finally did, and I wish you much continued success.

June Shaw said...

Thanks so much, Earl. Wishing you continued success, too.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

June,

Thanks for being our guest blogger.
As you can see, your article was much appreciated.

bdtharp said...

Love it! A Splinter! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You're an inspiration.