Teaching Tools for the Writer: Become a Dynamic Speaker by Adding SPICE!

Recently, I wrote a post for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) called Teaching Tools for Writers: 4 Steps to Building a Public Speaking Platform. Check it out here.

The focus was on building a speaking platform focusing using four steps.

Today I’d like to focus on sharpening our public speaking skills and wowing our audience with engaging and interactive presentations.

As a 7th Grade World History Teacher, I’ve learned a few things about how to make an audience fall asleep and drool during class, and a few things that keep them on the edge of their seat wanting to know more.

Figured we don’t want to bore our audience to the point of drooling, so let’s add some SPICE, aka The Key To Awesome Presentations:







S: Short

If using a slide format to present, or providing handouts, keep the information as short as possible. We’re offering snippets, thoughts, bits of info, not a dissertation. Wordiness is killer on the attention span—even for adults. And, it’s insulting. Give one word, no more than six words per slide, and let the reader/student/attendee take notes based on what they find significant.

Fewer words also increase the likelihood of remembering.

Caveat: Some slides may include more words than six words. For example, a slide focusing on a particular scripture, or a slide with group discussion questions. But as a rule of thumb, work to keep the great majority of slides as short and sweet as possible.


P: Passion

Sometimes we need to tell our face that we’re having a good time. If we aren’t into what we’re speaking about, our audience won’t care either. Add passion. How? Well, sometimes it’s a fake it ‘til we make it thing where we are consciously making ourselves move around the room/stage. We are consciously adding dramatic pause, changing the pitch of our voice, adding facial expressions, even cracking jokes.

That may mean writing out the lesson word for word, and then reading over it aloud in order to get a feel of where elements of passion can be added. Over time, and with practice, passion will flow—we can’t help it, and when passion flows, it’s contagious!

I: Image

We are visual, and many of us are visual learners. We connect ideas, beliefs, and concepts to an image. That old saying “a picture is worth a 1,000 words” is pretty spot on. However, adding an image(s) to our presentation can evoke emotions. And when an emotional connection is made, coupled with a passionate presentation, and short snippets of info, BAM—something happens in our brain. Things stick better, which brings us to the C in SPICE:

C: Color

We should use color, and boldness, in our presentation.

For starters, no slide background should ever be plain ‘ole white. In fact, avoid a white background all together. Go with a colored background, and use white as the letter for a bold, memorable effect, if white is a must have.

Bold and enlarge the points we want our audience to remember, not the title. We don’t want them to remember the title of the presentation, but the concepts. So Bold, underline, and enlarge the font for those points.

Let’s recap.

Add SPICE to a Presentation

So far, we’ve learned to keep our presentation short using one word per concept, no more than six words per slide.

Adding passion is a must, and including an helps our audience make deeper connections to our presentation. We’ve also learned the benefits of using color and boldness. Now let’s look at the E in SPICE.

E: Experience

We want to allow our audience to experience the lesson or presentation. A mental field trip of sorts. How?

Tell stories. Tell stories that appeal to the senses: touch, sound, smell, taste, and site.

Stories, especially stories with drama, intrigue, romance, and action activate more parts of our brain allowing us to experience what we’re learning, which allows us to remember better. Jesus knew this, and taught with stories.

Where can an analogy, or personal story or testimony be added into the presentation?

Want to add a deeper level of audience experience? Add even more crowd interaction with Quizlet Live! Oh friends, the fun we have with this little gem! Used it not long ago while speaking at a Military Wives’ Conference, and it was a hit!  Any topic can be created from Bible Trivia, Elements of Plot Structure, The Point of This Lesson etc.  Want more info?

Stay tuned for my next post on Quizlet Live for the Speaker!

So, there it is! SPICE up your presentation and rivet your audience!


Want example of a presentation?

Check out one I recently used Here


Not sure what presentation format to use when prepping a talk?

Check out these Free or Nearly Free Presentation Formats that Rock!

  • PowerPoint is an oldie but goodie. Images, audio, and video can be added, and PowerPoint also has fun features that can add animation to each slide and/or point. Stick to the SPICE model, and it will provide a presentation that kicks, pops, and sparkles.
  • Google Sides is free on Googledocs and works very much like PowerPoint. I was raised on PowerPoint, so I’m not as savvy with Google Slides, but my students are pros at it, and actually like it better than PowerPoint. Not sure how to get started with Googledocs, which is awesome? Sign up for a Gmail email account…that’s it.
  • My personal FAVORITE presenting format is Prezi! It adds movement, color, images…oh I get all goose-pimply thinking about how great it is! It works very much like PowerPoint, and will admit there’s a little bit of a learning curve there, but it’s worth playing with. LOVE IT!


Prezi has a free version, and a paid version. So far I’ve only used the free templates. Check this one out!


Hope you found this post helpful!! Feel free to share this post, leave comments or questions.


Many Blessings,

Hannah R. Conway

Military Wife, Momma, Author, Speaker, Teacher, Lover of coffee, chocolate and books!

Join my Letting Freedom Newsletter Here!

Need something else to do? Why not Help me Launch my latest book, Up in Smoke, coming out this Summer! You’ll get a FREE Advanced Reader ECopy!  Join the Launch Team: Conway’s Convoy here!

Looking for a Speaker at your next event, conference, book club or conference? I’m in! Let’s chat! Contact me here!


Breathing on Her Own: Lessons from My Firstborn “Bookchild”

Today we welcome Author, and Speaker, Rebecca Waters! Rebecca has valuable insight to share, and a FREE COPY OF HER NOVEL, Breathing on Her Own. Rebecca, thank you for joining us today!
Breathing on Her Own: Lessons from My Firstborn “Bookchild”
Publishing that first novel is akin to raising your firstborn child. You do your best, make a few mistakes, and learn along the way.  Now that Breathing on Her Own is a three-year-old, I’m prepared to offer other fledgling parents of books my sage advice.

Lesson 1 Birthing a “Bookchild” Requires Preparation

First time parents want to do this whole baby thing right. Moms exercise and eat healthy. Dads dutifully paint the nursery. The couple reads everything they can about raising children and they spend long hours discussing the child’s name. 

In the same way, writers seeking to be authors need to exercise their writing muscle in order to draft that sweet manuscript. They must purposefully study the craft of writing and nuances of publishing. Writers need to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to improve as a writer. Choosing the title will emerge as the story unfolds. When I embarked on crafting that first novel, I created a business plan for my writing. I budgeted my time to study writing and publishing and engaged daily in writing exercises.

Lesson 2 Nobody’s “Bookchild” is Perfect

You wrote it. You love it. I get it. However, nobody births a perfect “bookchild.” Even the best of the best authors must revise and edit their work on a constant basis. I worked hard on that first novel to write a compelling story. I was sure I nailed it. When my publisher introduced me to my editor I waited for her to rave about the book. Fortunately, she knew her job was to polish my work not to caress my ego. Working with a professional editor may be painful or even costly. Think of it as putting braces on your child to correct the overbite. Healthy straight teeth improve speech quality, digestion, and physical appearance. A professional edit will allow your voice to be heard. It will give your manuscript the look and feel of a successful book.

Lesson 3 Not Everyone on the Playground Will Choose Your “Bookchild”

Once I decided to become an author I attended a writing conference. I hadn’t finished the first draft of Breathing on Her Own but was very close to the end. I pitched the book to agents and acquisition editors for publishing houses. I practiced what is called an elevator pitch. The first two agents interrupted me about halfway through my pitch. The next one and a couple of the publishers offered a kind word but a firm no. My last appointment was with Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He listened. He read the chapters I sent him. Two months later I had a contract. Not everyone will choose your book, but it only

takes one.

March 24th marks the third anniversary of the release of Breathing on Her Own. In celebration, my publisher is offering a freecopy of the book today! Grab it nowon Amazon.

Are you an aspiring author? I would love to hear from you. How are you spending these months of preparation to birth your own “bookchild?”

Interview with Rebecca: 

1: Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration behind it.

My husband died in a bicycle accident a few months after Breathing on Her Own released. That has been the hardest experience of my life. I put my novels on the back burner. I have a strong following on my blog, A Novel Creation, a background in education, and experience as a speaker. I’m often asked to speak to groups about the writing and publishing process. As a result, I recently published three handbooks for writers: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and Writing with E’s. Proceeds from these books go to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research set up by the CDC Foundation.

2. What is your favorite scripture and why?

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it heartily as for the Lord and not for men.” I claim this verse in every area of my life. In school I applied it to every assignment, always trying to do my best. Even if I didn’t like the teacher, I wrote the paper for God. What a difference that made! As a young wife I could sometimes feel unappreciated by my husband who tramped across the newly scrubbed kitchen floor with his muddy shoes. But when I scoured the floor for God, my feelings changed. He appreciated what I did. I now apply this to my writing as well. An agent may not like my book, but that’s okay. I didn’t write it for him!

3. I love hearing how God has set people free. There’s so much more to freedom than patriotism. Would you share a time with us when you experienced God’s freedom? 

I love this question. It is interesting to me because of the timing. As I’ve shared, my husband died quite suddenly in 2014. He and I had been married for 43 years. I’ve clung to passages about God’s care for me and that He has a plan for me. It’s been hard.  I relied on Tom for so much. Recently I heard a message about Lot’s wife. I never had much respect for Mrs. Lot. After all, she was told to not look back but did so anyway. She deserved being turned into a pillar of salt, right? Curious. The minister mentioned that aspect of disobedience, but said it wasn’t that she looked back with her eyes. She looked back with her heart. She looked back and longed for a life she couldn’t have. For me, a life I had enjoyed but one that could never be again. Don’t misunderstand. I will never forget Tom. He will always be a part of me, but now I am leaning on God more. I’m seeking His counsel and trusting His judgment more. I’m no longer looking at the plumber and wondering what Tom would do. There is a newfound freedom in that. Knowing that God has my back and He is all-powerful to care for me? Yes, that is true freedom. 

Rebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in articles for Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Prior to publishing her first novel, Breathing on Her Own, Rebecca was a college professor and speaker on the Ohio Writing Project circuit.





Just Start: Giveaway & Writing Advice from Guest Blogger, and Author Cyn Taylor

Today we welcome guest blogger and author, Cyn Taylor! She’s got some great writing advice to share, AND she’s giving away a copy of  Book 1 in the Smoky Mountain Mist series, “Blue Mountain Sky”!! Enter to win below!

Many folks live by the mantra that life is all about the journey. As a writer, I disagree. The journey to becoming a published author is fraught with perils. Who wants to live like that?
Your book begins with joy and elation; much like bringing a first child into the world. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration — but it’s my analogy, and I’m sticking to it.)
Soon we come to the middle of our tale. Let’s correlate this period of writing with the teen years of the child you birthed earlier. Joy and elation gives way to gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. This may be why there are so many bald authors.
We make it through the meat of our story. Whew! Now let’s wrap this up. However, finding the perfect ending can be as elusive as that candy bar that keeps sliding just out of reach under the seat of your car. Sure, you’re the one that hid it there due to a complete inability to share. However, you didn’t know at the time how far into the clutches of darkness a car floorboard could go.
Finally, the perfect words fly from your brain, down your arms and to your fingertips as you tap the computer keyboard as fast as the Flash can dart. The beginning is tempting, the middle moves the story along and the ending, well, IMPAC Dublin Award here we come.
Have a nice cup of tea and take a moment to catch your breath, because now the real work begins; finding a publisher that agrees with your assessment of the book. Once that happens (yes, sometimes fairy tales do come true) it’s on to the world of marketing. Let’s leave that experience for another day.
I wrote my first novel more than twenty-five years ago. I rewrote that book ten years ago. Then revised said book a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that I wanted to keep changing the story. I just wanted to be published.
Having first written the book as Romantic Fiction, I submitted it to Harlequin. Their response was along the lines of “We have numerous books at this point. We’ll get back to you.” They didn’t. Hence, the next rewrite.
Inspirational Romance was hitting the market big time. I moved my characters into a Christian setting, added suspense and a bit of humor. I got to know my characters better and felt an attachment to them. I submitted to various Christian publishers. Responses varied from “Not what we’re looking for at this time” to “We would love to help you self-publish.” BLAH!
When I took a job as a photojournalist for a community paper, I began looking at my book through the eyes of a reporter. Hence the next revision. That one was a mistake.
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My characters needed more depth. I tried reading Christian Romantic Fiction and found myself falling asleep. While this was good for my health, it did nothing towards helping me become a better writer.

A friend suggested I read Stephen King’s book On Writing.” I always found his stories terrifying and was never a fan. Now when I’m asked what helped me most in improving my writing I recommend this book. King is entertaining and the master at turning a phrase.
As I worked on redeveloping my first book, I had the idea of making it into a series set in the Great Smoky Mountains, my area. Before I had rewritten book one I was well on my way through books two and three. I had found my niche. I finished book one. Again. I started searching for a publisher. Again.
During this search, I received an assignment to interview a local author. I was impressed with her book so I bought it and saw her publisher listed.
I submitted my first book Blue Mountain Sky”to Mantle Rock Publishing in October of 2015. Editor Kathy Cretsinger liked it enough to send a contract. The book released July 2016. Book two in this series “Red Morning Glory” released January 2017. Book three “Dawn’s Gray Light” should be available later this year or early 2018. The genre is Faith-based Contemporary Romantic Suspense.
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So here we are at the end of this particular story. That of a published author. How do we wrap this up? Let’s not. As a believer, I know that our stories are never ending. We all play a small part in the greater story woven by God.

If you have words stuck in your head, get them out. Put them on paper. Record them. Share them. Open yourself up to change. Don’t be afraid to self-promote. You may write the next great American novel. You’ll never know if you don’t start.
Happy writing!
Cyn Taylor
Weaving fiction, speaking Truth


Cyn Taylor lives and plays in Knoxville Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. She and husband Brent live on his family farm at the peak of Thunder Ridge along with a feral cat and other woodland creatures who come round to visit. They have two adult children and seven grandchildren. 
As a former freelance photo journalist, Cyn has written faith, community and feature articles.  
Cyn gets some of the best inspiration for her books when she accompanies Brent on fly fishing excursions to the Smokies. He fishes. She writes. Life is good.

Email:  cyntaylor2016@gmail.com
Web: cyntaylor2016.wix.com/blog
Instagram: Cyn Taylor author


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Writer Tips: The Why’s & Where-fore’s of Self-Editing

Today we welcome, Author Sara R. Turqnuist! Not only is she giving us some GREAT writing advice, but she’s also GIVING AWAY an eCopy or Print version of her latest release, Off to War, to ONE LUCKY WINNER! Enter to win below!

Writers Gotta Write, but Writers Gotta Edit Too! 

Hello! It is a privilege to be on Hannah’s blog today. And I want to share with fellow writers something that I find quite difficult, but rather necessary and very rewarding: self-editing.
In general, I find it, frankly, to be a time drag. It’s time, I think, that could be better spent creating new work. Imagine if I didn’t have to do any editing? How much quicker could I produce work? Wow! But the fact of the matter is, we all have to self-edit. It’s a vital part of getting the manuscript ready for an agent/publisher.


It makes your manuscript stronger. Editing helps catch mistakes we may have made in earlier drafts and alert us to gaps in the work. It basically allows us to present the best to a publisher or a potential agent/editor (whomever is reading your work). Especially if the manuscript was written a while ago and it has been resting. Or there has been more learning about craft in the meantime through online courses, workshops, or conferences. Bring that back to the manuscript – enhance and hone the work.

It is required by many publishers before they send it through their editing process. My publisher requires that a round of self-editing with their criteria and my own skills before I submit it to their three rounds of editing (content, line, and proofing). I have been surprised how many things I’ve caught between my editing before the initial submission and then self-editing with their criteria. And what they ask me to look for is basic stuff. It’s just stuff that a newbie (like me at the time) wouldn’t have thought about.

Look for Grammatical Errors. This one is a no-brainer. One of the things I have found that is helpful is to run your document through a couple of word processors. For example, I used to write in LibreOffice. Well, LibreOffice catches a certain set of things. Word will catch a set. Some of these things overlap, but some do not. Word will catch things that LibreOffice did not. So, it behooves me to put my document through Word also. And that’s only one example.

Check for flow. Another thing that is helpful and is great for checking flow is to read it out loud. It is equally amazing what can be caught that way. I know, it doesn’t seem that it would make that big of a difference. But it does. When going through the manuscript, make sure words are not repeated. Make sure to vary sentence beginnings. These are things that help with flow.

Double check for inconsistencies or content flaws. Be ever watchful for things missed when writing. Have eyes like a hawk when it comes to this. We all know in our heads how our story works out, but try to look at it as a reader, fresh to the page. If it’s not clear in the document, it’s not clear. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. A reader can’t ask for explanations.

Tighten where you can. There needs to be some flow to your manuscript, but it also need not be extraneously wordy. Jerry Jenkins gives wonderful tips about tightening, especially dialogue. You can check out his blog here. Extra words are sometimes that – extra words.
There are more, but these are the biggies. I also strongly encourage everyone to get more eyes on the work. Be that a critique group, critique partner, or beta readers. Someone else should look at it for the purpose of giving honest feedback. 

And that, my friends, is my two cents worth on self-editing. Happy writing!

Sara is the author of The Lady Bornekova, The General’s Wife, Hope in Cripple, and Off to War. A native of Middle Tennessee, Sara attended the University of Memphis where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In the years that followed, she utilized every opportunity she could to travel and she fell in love with history, as the many places she visited inspired the stories she would write. Though she is an avid reader, Sara enjoys many creative outlets – music, art, and drama. You can usually find her either writing or into her latest art project.

Connect with Sara:
 Website http://saraturnquist.com/   
  Email  sara.r.turnquist@gmail.com 
  Facebook AuthorSaraRTurnquist (https://www.facebook.com/authorsararturnquist/
  Twitter @sarat1701 (https://twitter.com/sarat1701 )
  Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/saravturnquist/

 Get to Know Sara:

1: Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration

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behind it.

This book, Off to War, is about a young woman who must watch her best friend and beau leave for war. But she is not satisfied to stay behind. She sneaks off into the night and joins his camp’s Sanitary Commission (the women who followed the camps and cared for the men). A history program I saw that talked about women during the Civil War and their involvement in the war effort, specifically the Sanitary Commission, inspired me. I find that history itself provides plenty of inspiration!
2: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

My work in progress is called Second Chances. It is about a woman in 1870s Arizona (during the time of Billy the Kidd) whose first husband dies and she is left with no other option to provide for she, her son, and her late husband’s small herd of cattle, but to remarry. Brandon, the man she marries, needs the cattle to increase his herd and raise his profits at auction in order to save his ranch. The inspiration for the story was a wondering about second marriages when the first spouse dies. Does the surviving spouse memorialize the first in the sense that she would glaze over the “bad” memories and only remember the good? Many people tend to do that. Could a second spouse, even when love blossoms between them, compete with that?
3: Do you have a favorite time of the day to write? What about a favorite place?
I don’t really have a favorite time of day to write…other than when my children are not around. That means that they are out of the house or unconscious (that means napping). I find I am more productive at a local coffee shop called Lasaters. They have these really comfortable booths that allow me to spread out my research and everything I need. I also have an office in my house that has proved productive. More than anything, it has been the discovery of Scrivener and it’s “Compose” mode that really helps. It blocks out the desktop and any pop ups. Wonderful!!
EXCERPT from Off to War
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        “I need you to be strong for me now, Lizzie.”

She wanted to. Breathing deeply, she attempted to rein in her emotions.  
All the while, he continued to rub her arms, her shoulders, pressing kisses to her forehead and her hair.
Why did he have to be so wonderful? Tears threatened to break through again, but she held them back.
Once she calmed, he used his finger to tilt her chin so she looked up at him. “Can you be strong for my parents?”
She knew what he meant. He spoke not only of today, but also if something were to happen to him. “Yes,” she lied.
“I know you can, even if you don’t,” he assured her, cupping her face.
She hung her head, fighting more tears.
“Write to me?” He hooked her chin with his finger so she had to look at him.
“Every day.”
“Wait for me?” he asked, his voice as tender as she’d ever heard it.
John’s face broke out in a slow smile at that.
Elizabeth allowed herself to get lost in his eyes. They belonged together. In that moment, she knew… that’s why he wasn’t afraid. He would return to her because he had to.
His lips met hers again in a gentle kiss.
She returned his kiss with everything she had, longing to communicate all of her love, all of her hopes and dreams in that one kiss.
When John broke contact, her head still spun.
“I must go.” He blinked, moving toward the door, his step wavering.
Was the room spinning for him, too?
“I carry you with me, Lizzie. Always and forever, remember?”
“Always and forever.” She fought down a fresh wave of emotion, refusing to cry in front of him again.
He reached over and pulled her to him for another quick kiss. 
Then he was gone, and she was alone.

Readers can purchase Off to War HERE, or enter to win a copy by entering below!

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Keeping (or Putting Back) the Joy in Writing guestpost & giveaway by Shannon L. Brown

Welcome, Author Shannon L. Brown! Shannon is giving away a copy of one of her three books! The winner gets to choose which one! Enter to win below!

 Keeping (or Putting Back) the Joy in Writing 
by Shannon L. Brown
The reality of being a writer today is different than it was not too many years ago. We still create new people and places, but we have to stop that to do social media. And then we can work on our website. Or do some more social media. If you’re an indie author, as I’ve chosen to be, you may need to consult with a cover designer or search for a copyeditor. And do some social media.
The end result is that the joy of writing can be suffocated—in a hurry if you aren’t careful. I found myself in this situation recently. If you have too, perhaps these ideas will help you as they’ve helped me.

1: Keep God first. Throughout the Bible, he tells his children not to fear or have anxiety. He reminds us to think on positive things. If we truly believe he wants us to write, then we should not be dwelling in these emotions. We must cast our cares on him. If we’re feeling overwhelmed, we know that can’t be God’s will.
2: If God doesn’t want us to stress out, then there must be a solution. But your solution might not be mine. Spend time in prayer. There isn’t a shortcut here so make the time to do this!
3: Peel back the process of how you’re working. Can you streamline anything? Stop doing anything? If you can afford to hire out any of your processes such as your website or social media or ________, would that help?
4: A favorite Bible verse of mine is “. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)  What is it about writing that brings you joy? (If nothing does, then perhaps being a writer isn’t your best choice.) I have written hundreds of nonfiction articles, but can lose myself in fiction. It brings me joy so I must need to write fiction more. I like creating plot and characters for books. I don’t mind editing—even though I’d rather be writing—because I love it when so-so writing becomes wonderful. I actually don’t even mind doing some social media, but we’re supposed to be more active than I am. I’m considering hiring a virtual assistant to help with social media.
5: When you start to stress out, stop and take a deep breath. Find the kernel of joy in what you’re doing. If you need to step aside from your work do it. Staying peaceful and joyful is important to yourself, those you love, and the writing itself.
6: Back to #1.
Amazing post, Shannon! Thank you! Now, let’s get to know you a bit more. 🙂 

Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration behind it.
The Treasure Key came out in March. I enjoy writing books for kids this age because they like silly things. In the middle of a page-turner mystery, I can add a fun scene and they love that. My favorite part about this book is the scene that wrote itself. I could see a place near the end of the book that was important to the story, but not how that place would be introduced. Thinking there was danger, the girls hid behind a big rock. When they stood, one of them commented on the trail behind them going off through the woods. This was totally unplanned. They took the trail and went to the place I needed them to go. 
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers? I know they’d love a personal note.
I appreciate every reader. When they tell me they’ve enjoyed reading a book I wrote, it warms my heart. So I want to thank everyone who has read one of my books (or more than one) and hope that I get to meet you in person someday.
Just for fun! I’m a bit of a History Buff and Sci-Fi Geek. Oh how I’d love to time travel! If you could time travel, where would you go and why? 
I am a huge history buff. I’ve written quite a few articles about Tennessee history and even do historical research for people. When I speak to groups, it’s about either writing or history. Since I was a kid in Alaska, I’ve been fascinated with the Westward Movement in the U.S. so I think I’d like to go on a covered wagon to Oregon. Or maybe I’d rather visit be on hand for the Boston Tea Party. Or try to stop Lincoln’s assassin. There are too many choices.
If you switched genres in your writing, in which genre would you choose to write your next novel?
I would love to write suspense. I think about it from time to time, but I’m not sure I would sleep at night if I wrote edge-of-the-seat suspense. I may have to find out.
What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Tenacious, Hardworking, Kind
Let’s play a game of favorites! Feel free to elaborate. 🙂
Favorite Dessert: I love fruit desserts, especially something with cinnamon like apple pie. And I like chocolate.
Favorite Restaurant: My current favorite is Amerigo’s.
Favorite Branch of the Military (I won’t judge you if say anything other than Army, lol 🙂) : My high school was near both an army post and air force base so the school was half military. I spent more time on the Army post. So we’d get to the movies on time, I learned to tell time by the 24 hour clock.
Favorite Genre of Music: I like many types of music – country, bluegrass, pop, Christian, classical. I’m not a huge fan of hard rock or jazz.
Favorite Subject in School: I think I took every English class my high school offered. In college I spent more time in history classes.
Shannon L. Brown is the author of three books, two in the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series for ages 8-12—The Feather Chase and The Treasure Key—and the clean romance Falling for Alaska. An award-winning journalist who specialized in the jewelry industry, Shannon’s happy to now spend most of her time in the make-believe world of fiction. Born and raised in Alaska, she had fun writing Falling for Alaskaand adding a hint of Alaska in The Treasure Key. She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat. 
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ENTER TO WIN a paperback or eCopy of one of Shannon’s books! The Winner gets to choose which book, and which format (paperback or eCopy).

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Letting Our Characters Fall Hard & Why It’s Important

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Oh. My. Word. I thought after my first book the others would be easier to write.
Now into my 4th manuscript (my agent holds the 3rdwhile I make edits…good times), it’s clearly not getting any easier. I’m still carving out, and fighting for the time to write. Even when I etch out the time, it seems the words don’t want to flow. They drip like some clogged faucet. 
So I sit.  Stare at my screen. Pray.
Maybe check my email again – for the 20th time. Then remember to do a little cleaning.
I have to say, that while working on my current manuscript, my toilets have NEVER been so clean. I even folded socks one night…now that is some serious desperation y’all. Folding socks in my nemesis! It’s a mutual dislike, but I digress.
There are a plethora of reasons writers find writing difficult, and I’ve come to terms with why this book is so stinkin’ hard to write: My characters are acting out and making all the wrong choices!! Ugh!
I know the story. I’ve got the plot lines down. I know what has to happen, but I can’t seem to make them fall into that moral demise. It goes against my grain. Letting them fall means I go there with them…try to feel what they would feel in order to put words on paper, and bring the story to life.  And wow…that’s difficult to do.
Going through the valley with our characters is challenging, and is intensified when they’ve thrown themselves down a slippery slope of sin. 
I don’t wanna imagine what it would be like if I stepped outside of God’s will for my life for five minutes, let alone the length of a novel! Yet, I must. I must tell this story.  Why?
Why? Because we fall.
As writers, we must travel with our characters. Why?

2) Because someone needs this story.

Perhaps it’s me that needs it, or someone I’ll never meet…even someone who hasn’t been born yet (an odd thought).
And lastly, I must tell this story:
         3) Because the fall may be great, and terrible, but it reflects the unprecedented potential for grace and redemption toabound (click to tweet)—something we can’t WAIT to write! Something we crave to experience in life, and in the stories we read. 
Click to Tweet
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So…with the encouragement, and constructive criticism spoken in love from my valued writing partners and critique group, I’ll persevere through this story. One. Word. At. A. Time.
Stand strong, writers, and do the same.  
Side Note: A Little Trick I’d Like to Share:   A tool I’ve been using to help get my word count in, is the timer!  I can trick myself into writing for an hour. After the hour or 90 minutes, I give myself 30 minutes to clean, check email, walk etc. then go back to writing again. This REALLY seems to be helping me out.