I’ve known my next guest, at least online, for many years now. Please help me welcome Claudia Shelton! First a peek at her bio and then we’ll move to the fun part…
Award winning author Claudia Shelton has already proven herself a contender in romantic suspense books that cross over into the mystery-suspense-thriller genre. Whether sexy protector agents or small-town family settings, her fast-paced stories keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. Now, with the release of the first book in her new Nature’s Crossing series, she’s entering the contemporary mainstream romance genre (a crossover between contemporary romance and women’s fiction). The ongoing small-town saga is nestled in south-central Missouri, somewhere between Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and Mark Twain National Forest.
On a personal note, Claudia considers herself a music lover and water person, plus she enjoys anything to do with nature. In fact, the Nature’ Crossing series allows her to bring all of those things closer. Her main priority, though, is spending time with family, friends and her two sweet, conniving rescue dogs, Gidget and Daisy.
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Betty: When did you become a writer?
Claudia: I began writing seriously in 2006. Finished my first book in 2008.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Claudia: My debut novel was Risk of A Lifetime – released 2014 with Entangled Publishing. However, I had short stories published prior to that.
Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?
Claudia: I’ve been a reader all my life, so I feel that there isn’t just one author influence. Writing and styles and stories change with the times, so the combination of all that has come before, mixed with the stories waiting in my mind at the moment, will always influence what I write. In my humble opinion, I feel that five years from now, I could write the same premise of a story…yet the book would be different than what came out last year. Times change and so do books.
Betty: What prompted you to start writing?
Claudia: I just did! And, of course once you start, the characters, settings, and storylines begin to bombard your mind.
Betty: What type of writing did you start with?
Claudia: My first published books were Romantic Suspense. But the first book I ever wrote was A Week at Most which is a mixture of contemporary romance/women’s fiction/and just a tiny touch of suspense. The manuscript sat on my shelf for over ten years before I reworked the story and published the book in November 2020.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Claudia: That’s an interesting question. One I don’t really have an answer for because there’s so much that feels good in the moment.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Claudia: Craft books. Critique groups. Workshops.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Claudia: There is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to storytelling. Just write the book!
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Claudia: Catherine Mann, BJ Daniels, Robyn Carr, Sherryl Woods, Cherry Adair and many, many more. I thank them all.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Claudia: The outdoors and being close to nature have always been special to me. And I love my memories of small-town life and country living, music in the air, and swings on the front porch. The Nature’s Crossing series is a feel-good setting which called to me.
If you like the Virgin River or Sweet Magnolias series, you’ll want to read A Week At Most, first book in the new Nature’s Crossing series.
Big-city newscaster Ashley Lanovan never envisioned herself divorced, unemployed, and house sitting for friends during the holiday season. After adjusting to small-town culture shock, she realizes that her priorities have been misplaced for the past ten years and feels inspired to energize the struggling community. But a holiday getaway to Washington, D.C., gives her even more reason to call Nature’s Crossing her home.
Mark Garmund is ready for a change in careers. He’s seriously considering the National Park Services job offer in the area of Nature’s Crossing. Now, he’s got his eye on ten acres with towering pines, a park-like setting, and one sprawling house he could call home. Meeting Ashley has triggered emotions he’d rather not face, and a few he would sure like to pursue. But first he has to earn her trust.
Ashley put together a platter of fruit, cheese, and salami, then tossed crackers in a bowl and finished off the tray with two glasses. The klutz in her feared she might trip on the stairs, so she lowered it through the dumb waiter, retrieving the food once she was down the steps.
As Mark opened the patio door for her, he took the tray as she stepped out into the back yard that had become a wonderland. Flowers sprouted from a watering can placed on the picnic table, lanterns cast a warm flickering glow, and soft jazz floated in the air. Two chairs bordered the wood-filled fire pit. He’d been busy.
“I don’t think you were planning on going to the dance.” Ashley marveled at the finesse he showed in lighting the wood.
He shrugged and poured them each a glass of wine. “You’ll never know, will you? You said no.”
“By the way, don’t forget to take your clean fishing vest. I can get it from my suitcase.”
“Thanks. But I’ll pick it up the next time I’m through town.”
She wouldn’t break the mood by telling him she’d be gone by this time next week.
His grin told her his question even before he asked. “Why’s it in your suitcase?”
What was she supposed to say? That she’d hoped he’d come for the vest? She wouldn’t dare tell him she tried it on twice. Already his flirty tone played with her. “After I washed it three times and got the stink bait smell out, I needed to keep it someplace.”
The cold night air overtook her. She shivered slightly. A sweater instead of the blouse would have been a smarter choice.
“Are you cold?” he asked.
“No.” She shuddered again. “Maybe a little.”
“Won’t take long for the fire to get going. You’ll warm up fast then.” He pitched more wood on the blaze.
Her teeth chattered together lightly.
Mark removed his leather jacket. Facing her, he wrapped it around her shoulders. “There, that should help.”
It had been a long time since she felt lost in a man’s coat. A long, long time. She smiled as the fresh aroma of his ocean breeze cologne, mingled with the scent of leather against her skin.
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I love being out in nature, too! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration for this story and your writing, Claudia!
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