My guest today embodies the spirit of never giving up and believing in yourself. And all wrapped up in a sweet and fun woman! Come on and meet author Shelley Justice and find out exactly what I mean. First, here’s a glance at her bio and then we’ll meet her and her latest book release.
Shelley Justice is a Southern belle who lives with her husband and two children in northern Alabama. Her love for the written word inspired her to start writing when she was thirteen years old, and she’s been living in her imagination and crafting stories ever since. In addition to being a bookworm, she is a self-proclaimed TV addict with a special affinity for dramas. She also loves romantic movies, especially of the black-and-white variety.
Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?
Shelley: This is a part of my series, and Brick is a popular character among readers of the series. When I began, I never intended for him to have a book all his own, but the more I wrote in the series, the more I liked this character and wanted to explore his story.
Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?
Shelley: Both of the main characters, Brick and Hope, were fully developed when I started writing. I liked the idea of an opposites attract trope for these two, and it worked well.
Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?
Shelley: Hope owns a bridal boutique and designs her own wedding gowns. This was inspired by my love for the television show Say Yes to the Dress.
Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?
Shelley: The antagonist. I won’t say who this person is because there’s a reveal close to the end. But this character was sort of a “throwaway” character, as I call them, one meant to add something to a more important character and then the throwaway character is gone and probably forgotten. It wasn’t until the midpoint of the book that I realized this character needed a more prominent role in the story. It meant having to go back and add some hints in what I’d already written, but I was glad I did.
Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?
Shelley: I didn’t do a lot of research before I started writing. I usually wait until a particular question comes to mind, and then I disappear down a rabbit hole of internet searches. There are some characters who work as commercial realtors, so I had to do some research into their licensing and qualifications.
Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?
Shelley: Two read-throughs and edits of the whole thing, start to finish. Multiple edits of particular scenes as I was writing. Something would occur to me, and I’d either go back and work it out in another scene so I could move forward, or I would make a note to edit that scene once I finished. Sometimes I have to edit as I go, otherwise I get stuck on something and can’t concentrate enough to move on.
Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?
Shelley: About three months. Maybe a little more. Since I write part-time, it usually takes me three or four months to write a first draft, but that’s if the characters cooperate. I’ve had one or two in the series to take longer because the characters wouldn’t follow the story I had in mind. The longest amount of time it’s taken me to complete a first draft has been over a year.
Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?
Shelley: I start with a list of characters and descriptions. Sometimes I find photos of random people online to provide me a visual of what the characters look like. Then I just start writing and see where the words take me. Sometimes I’ll have an inkling of how I want the main characters to meet, but the rest comes when it comes.
Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?
Shelley: That is a BIG one. Smile or look/gaze/stare is another. I have an eye fetish I’ve discovered. LOL!
Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?
Shelley: My mentor, Maryann Jordan, is one I look up to. She and I have become great friends, and she’s been so patient in answering my endless questions about her writing career and her process. She’s published over 70 books and doesn’t have plans to stop. That’s a goal I’d like to shoot for. I also look up to Dolly Parton. She’s a Southern gal with sass and style and a don’t-care attitude that I wish I had. But I love her work with the Imagination Library and with literacy.
Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?
Shelley: Because I write part-time, I write everywhere. In the car, in the living room piled up on my recliners, in waiting rooms, you name it. Revising I prefer to do while I’m at home. Reading is something I do everywhere. If I’m bored, then I look for something to read usually.
Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?
Shelley: I work in marketing for a community college. I never thought this would be a career I enjoyed, but I do. I have time for writing, but I’m able to be creative. I’ve also met some incredible people along the way.
Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?
Shelley: Actually, publishing that first book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was thirteen, but it never seemed to be the right time. I allowed my doubts about whether my writing was good enough or whether anyone would want to read it keep me from considering publishing an option. I don’t know how many times I almost talked myself out of doing it, but I have so many supportive people in my “tribe” who wouldn’t let me give up. It’s only been two years, but I’ve learned so much since that first book.
Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?
Shelley: Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. That book has always been a favorite of mine, and her story has always fascinated me. She’s an author from Alabama, which is my home state as well, and she just always seemed like someone who would shoot straight from the hip, as my grandmother would say. I admire people like that.
Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?
Shelley: I have set goals for my writing career, but I don’t believe meeting those goals would mean success for me as much as they would be a source of personal pride. Success for me is a single image I’ve had in my head a long time – to be in a library, to see my book on a shelf and to hear one reader (who doesn’t know me personally) to recommend the book to another reader. Knowing I created something that someone enjoyed enough to recommend it would be a humbling and joyful moment.
Hope Robertson has carefully thought out every aspect of her life. That plan does not include losing her mind, and she had a to-do list to prove it. Someone is disrupting her orderly life in ways so subtle no one believes they are anything more than just flukes. But she has no time for chaos, so she heads to the security firm next door for help.
After a successful military career, Brick Coffey landed at Knight Security and Investigations, and discovered a job he loves. He never imagined he could need or want more in his life — until he sees her. One quick look through the boutique window, and Brick can’t forget the vision dressed in a brilliant white wedding dress. He knows she is out of his league, but when she hires KSI to protect her, he can’t stay away from her.
Hope is French food and fine wine. Brick is barbecue and beer. He’s everything she thinks she doesn’t want. She’s everything he didn’t realize he had been missing. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her because when this case is over, he plans to show her they are more right than wrong.
Buy Links: Amazon
Thanks for swinging by, Shelley! I’m glad you didn’t give up and followed your heart. Your readers thank you, too!
Happy reading, everyone!
Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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