Thursday, November 10, 2011

Author Spotlight ... Shannon Taylor Vannatter

by Shannon Taylor Vannatter
In 1999, I decided to write a book, so I just did. Afterward, my local librarian steered me toward a market guide. From there, I learned how to write queries and proposals--well, I thought I’d learned. I’m certain it gave at least fifty-two editors a good laugh.
But, I got two rejection letters with handwritten notes saying I had a great plot, I just needed to attend conferences and learn to write. Learn to write? Why attend conferences when I can just write? So, I wrote two more books and actually got one Print on Demand published.
I thought I had made it. And in all honesty, I finally attended my first conference so I could be a big dog. A big published dog. And sure enough, I was a big dog. No one else at the conference was published, other than the speakers.
I was queen for a day and to top it off, the conference hosted several contests for essays and short stories. I won two first place awards. Oh, I’m telling you, I had arrived and was certain publishers would fight over my books.
After the book came out, reality sank in. Bookstores didn’t buy my 171 page, $21.95 paperback book. I had to pay $15.95 for each copy and since I’d just had a baby and quit my job to be a stay-at-home-mom, I couldn’t afford many copies. So, I sold a rousing 178 copies of my very badly written, unedited book. With those rousing numbers, the publisher rejected my sequel even though the book had a cliff-hanger ending.
About that time, my husband/preacher decided to do something shifty. He only does shifty things for me, mind you. He went to a bookstore, which of course did not carry my book, and ordered it. The shifty part: he had no intention of buying it. Knowing the book would eventually be put on the shelf, he hoped eventually somebody would shell out big bucks to buy it.
But my book wasn’t even in their system. However, the clerk told him they had another title by that author. Huh?
This is how we found out that another Print on Demand company had published the first very badly written book I ever wrote. We got a lawyer, who mentioned plagiarism and big money. But I didn’t want big money, I just wanted the publisher to stop publishing my book and pay me the piddly royalties he owed me from the piddly three books he sold.
The lawyer sent the publisher a cease and desist letter: requesting he stop publishing my book and pay me my cut. It got really ugly with the publisher, who sent me a really nasty, un-Christian-like e-mail, swore he didn’t publish the book, and finally admitted, “It accidentally got loose in his system.” Huh?
I never did get my royalties, but the book is out of print, unless Amazon digs it up for the Kindle.
Finally, I decided all of this was getting me nowhere fast. Maybe joining a writers’ group, attending more conferences, and learning to write might not be such a bad idea.
Through local groups and conferences, I learned the basics. Finally in 2005, I discovered American Christian Fiction Writers. The first time I attended the conference, I learned that I knew nothing about publishable writing. ACFW took me to the next level and I’ve attended every year since, but didn’t join until 2008.
Once I finally joined, I also joined a critique group, which took me to the next level.
It was somewhere along that point when I began entering Romance Writers of America National contests and ACFW’s Genesis. In all, I entered five contests and placed second in two RWA’s. One second place finalist even went to a big-time editor, who said I’d started the story in the wrong place.
The feedback I received from the judges in these contests was invaluable. And though I can’t say that a contest got me published, I can say the judge’s comments got me to the next level and publishers really started to take notice after my two second place wins.
In 2008, I attended the ACFW conference in Minneapolis where Heartsong Presents acquisitions editor JoAnne Simmons' eyes lit up over my story. 
A mere three years later, which seems like at least ten, my fourth book, Rodeo Dust just released through Heartsong Presents.
What's next? Rodeo Hero, the second book in my Texas rodeo series releases in March 2012. I'm currently working on book 3, Rodeo Ashes set to release in June 2012.

by Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Heartsong Presents,October 2011
Ad exec, Rayna Landers meets bull rider, Clay Warren at the State Fair of Texas. While Rayna thinks she’s content solo, Clay longs for marriage and family. Though poised to win his third world championship, his ranch is in a slump. Clay convinces his publicist to hire her advertising firm in a last-ditch effort to keep his employees and lasso her heart.
Soon the city girl is on the ride of her life, until the rodeo unearths buried memories from her past. Clay sees her through the trauma, but an injury and his stubborn determination to get back in the hypothetical saddle threatens their budding relationship. Can they rely on God to find their common ground or will they draw a line in the rodeo dust that neither will cross?
Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. Her debut novel, White Roses won the 2011 Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category. The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards named Vannatter 3rd Favorite New Author. At the same awards White Roses was voted #1 and White Doves #8 in the contemporary category. The Arkansas Democrat Three Rivers Edition voted Vannatter one of 20 to Watch in 2011.
She has taught fiction workshops at The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis, MO, Life Press Christian Writers Conference in Memphis, TN, and Ozark Romance Authors Conference in Springfield, MO plus a ten session writing class as a continuing adult education course at Arkansas State University.
The first book in her Texas rodeo series, Rodeo Dust will be available through Heartsong Presents in October. Rodeo Hero and Rodeo Ashes release in 2012. Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at


  1. Shannon, you always inspire me to never give up. Thank you for being one of those friends who has helped me take my writing to the next level.

    And thanks for stopping by today & sharing your journey with us.


  2. Brenda, thanks for having me. Your writing is at a higher level than mine. Hope my school of hard knocks inspires someone.

  3. Shannon: Your attitude speaks volumes to me.

  4. Nicole,
    And I only shared about half the roller coaster ride.

    My attitude is okay now. But during those hard knocks, I was not a happy campter

  5. Shannon, I admire your persistence & determination to pursue a writing career! I'm a lifelong passionate writer who recently became a published contributing author of an inspirational nonfiction. I'd love to attend writing conferences to further my craft, yet, the past few years have been economically challenging with my husband laid off of work twice. Other than attending writing conferences what do you recommend?