Writer Wednesday: Joanie Shawhan

I met Joanie Shawhan with some mutual friends for lunch several times to talk about our writing dreams, before either of us ever got published. I instantly fell in love with her bubbly personality. She’s gone through the shadow of ovarian cancer and her passion to help others going through cancer is inspiring. I asked her about her writer’s journey.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I had journaled for years, but I had never planned to be an author. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, that I realized I had something to say that would be helpful to others going through chemotherapy. I searched for ovarian cancer survivors, but there were no ovarian cancer support groups. I wondered if there were any other survivors. So, I started writing the book I would have liked when I went through chemotherapy—a book with stories that validated my experience, concluding each chapter with a scripture and a prayer.

What’s your pet peeve?

Book series in which I have to read the next book to find out how the main conflict is resolved.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

In my first review of a friend’s piece, I gave a one-star when I meant to give 5 stars, but the program used for the review would not allow me to change my stars. 

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Since I had no experience in the writing and publishing world, I needed to learn the craft of writing and the publishing industry so I attended numerous writing conferences and joined a writing critique group.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Rejections are hard. How could they not like my book baby? I have to realize that the rejections are not personal, but often related to their business goals. Sometimes negative reviews or comments are just personal preferences. But the reviewer may also make a valid point which I can use to improve my writing.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

My new release, In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer, which chronicles my ovarian cancer journey and the cancer stories of eleven other women.  

What is your current work in process?

Lessons I learned from my spiritual mother.

Bio: Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes articles and encouragement for women undergoing chemotherapy. Publishing credits include The Upper Room, Coping with Cancer Magazine, God Still Meets Needs and In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer. She is involved in an ovarian cancer social group, The Fried Eggs—Sunny-Side up and speaks to medical students about ovarian cancer in the Survivors Teaching Students program. When not attending one of her two book clubs or her writing critique group, Joanie enjoys designing jewelry, swimming and knitting.

Find Joanie at these online locations!

Website: www.joanieshawhan.com

Newsletter:  blog on my website: https://joanieshawhan.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joanieshawhanAuthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/joanshawhan/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jmshawhan

Amazon Page: amazon.com/author/joanieshawhan

Latest book release: March 2019: In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer

Available on Amazon https://amzn.to/2TaEiZz

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Why Attend a Writer’s Conference?

My husband Ben and myself are heading out on a road trip from Wisconsin to Philadelphia. We love being together and figured it was less expensive than flying and renting a car to do any site-seeing while out there as we padded our time to be able to do that.

I am attending as a faculty member at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference: Write His Answer. At heart, I’m a homebody. I get stressed doing the prep for a conference, the packing, making sure my notes are in order and arrangements for someone to stay with my kids and dog…

Then I attend and I am blessed beyond measure by the people I connect with, the friends I’ve made over the years who I get to see again, and the new ones I’ll make. Some vacation time in advance is always welcome. I love to teach so that is always fun.

Coming to be on faculty is not necessarily a financial boon to our family. This is a labor of love. A ministry to writers who are where I once was, wondering what I was to do with this story God had given me and not even realizing just how much I needed to learn!

Now I get to be on the other side, encouraging other writers on their journey, listen to their stories (fictional and real) and pray with them. So even if I take a financial loss, it is worth it from an eternal perspective.

I will leave blessed and drained. It will take me days to recover when I get back home because at heart I am an introvert.

Why should you attend a Christian writer’s conference?

  1. You will be blessed by the worship and teaching: inspired to write!
  2. You will make new friends. I have dear friends around the country who I met at writer’s conferences and our friendship goes beyond the written page.
  3. You will learn. Every person you meet, every one-on-one appointment with an agent or editor doesn’t need to result in a contract offer – but it can be a great opportunity to learn. And maybe at some point, that contract will happen! My first writer’s conference with agents and editors led me to one book contract within two months, a flash-fiction and a short story published within five months! Now the non-fiction didn’t pan out in the long run but I have to say that I learned so much from every person I met with, faculty or conferee.
  4. You’ll be exposed to great teaching and have the opportunity to bounce ideas off others.
  5. The people at a Christian writer’s conference understand you as a writer. The joys, the fears, the ups and downs. Not everyone outside of Christian publishing will get it. If you are a Christian author, these are YOUR people.

I’m sure I could come up with many other reasons but those are the first few that come to mind. If you want to come to Philly this week – there are still spots available and I’d love to meet you! Check out the website: https://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/

Blessings!

Susan

Spatzle Speaks: A Refuge for Rosanna (Book Review)

Susan Karsten loves the Regency period and it shows in her second book, A Refuge for Rosanna.

Rosanna has finagled a way to purchase a home in the country where she can live and not be forced into a marriage with anyone. She’s grieving the loss of her one true love and has no desire to ever marry. She longs to set up a sanctuary for women who want to avoid marriage but runs into a few snags in her plan. Long rambles on the property bring a neighbor to her awareness.

Lord Peter Winstead has a shameful past but it was his father’s sins that caused the loss of his beloved family home, Honor’s Point. Now in reduced circumstances, he lives a humble life on a small parcel of land that he was able to retain. Hiding his true identity for as long as possible, he is struck by the new owner but realizes that if the truth were to come out about his misdeeds, she’d never consider him an eligible suitor.

Romantic encounters, pesky neighbors, hidden treasure, along with challenging rescue all combine to tear them apart or bring them together. Will love overcome all?

If you love the Regency genre you will adore this sweet romance by Susan Karsten, book two in her Honor’s Point series! My mom has a hard time putting sweet stories of love and adventure like this down so I’m giving it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: ‘Til Dice Do Us Part (Book Review)

Julie Cosgrove has written several dramatic romantic suspenses around the subject of human trafficking, but she’s also been the master of cozy mysteries and ‘Til Dice Do Us Part is book number 4 in her Bunco Biddies Mystery series. The final installment.

While preparing for a wedding shower, one of the Bunco Biddies falls from a ladder. in her drugged and painful state she overhears a crime being discussed behind the curtain next to her room in the ER.

Janie can’t quite get her son-in-law to investigate so the Bunco Biddies decide to do some on their own resulting in hilarity and danger and on the wedding day–a missing groom!

Everything gets crazy as the crime is uncovered and once again the intrepid older women are able to prove just how valuable they are to the local police department.

This was a fun series and the characters are a delight to read, or so my mom says. I just get to sit next to her and listen to her chuckle. Which is fine with me so I give it five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Her Hometown Heart (Book Review)

Andrea Boeshaar has written many wonderful novels and this one is no exception. Her Hometown Heart is full of just that–heart.

Amie Potter finds herself the recipient of her deceased uncle’s run-down gas station. Meeting Tom, who was like a son to her uncle, raises alarm bells due to a painful past. Soon she learns to look past the unkempt appearance and dirty clothes to the heart of the man undearneath. Maybe, just maybe, she should follow her old dream to run a hotel in this tiny town.

Tom Anderson has his own wounds from the past and big-city girl Amie doesn’t fit into his life at all. When she suggests they go into business together the bulk of the work falls on his shoulders as she goes back to work at her “real” job. The old filling station is torn down and a new hotel constructed. Life is changing for this man as he begins to fall in love with his partner.

Is it possible that her uncle had other plans for them both? Will their dark pasts get in the way of them finding a lasting love?

This is a sweet story where both characters show incredible growth through the book as they face their pasts and learn to trust in new ways as they cling to faith and take the risk partnering in business…and love. I highly recommend this sweet romance so I give it five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

God’s Sense of Humor

I haven’t posted here for a long time. Life got crazy last year between writing, editing, teaching high school until June, speaking at conferences, and then shoulder surgery. To top it off I met a man through online dating.

First I tried Zoosk and I hate to say it, but I got romanced by a guy I never met face-to-face. I had to learn the hard way about things like “bread-crumbing” and it was amazing the kind of research I needed to do to navigate this new world. I finally decided the guy was a fraud and ended that communication, but boy, could he write the sweetest emails! Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth, right? I’m a romance author. I should know that better than anyone.

After a few months of keeping my standards high, I had some communications via text, email, and a few phone calls, but dismissing anyone who didn’t quite make the cut. You have cats? Um, not happening as they make my eyes swell shut! Oh, your dog won’t like my dog? Sounds like it’s a pass for both of us. Seriously, these were some of the things that came up. I had no face-to-face dates although a few men were interested. They didn’t make the cut. I finally tried E-Harmony as Zoosk wasn’t finding me the quality of man I wanted. I signed up and then thought maybe I needed to wait until after my shoulder surgery was done, but it was too late. I couldn’t back out. E-Harmony wouldn’t let me. That whole idea of “three-day right to rescind” doesn’t apply to online dating sites.

So I was stuck. I started looking. I smiled at some potential guys that “matched” well. One of them smiled back. Then we texted and finally talked on the phone on my birthday. For two hours. I asked him three times: “So, do you want to meet?” He finally agreed and we set the date for the next day.

He showed up early (huge points in my book!) and brought me flowers (sweet!) in my favorite color and even wore a shirt that had the same color in it. We met at Qdoba. I had already had lunch, it was mid-afternoon on a Sunday, so I ordered nachos and a soda. My points on my card allowed me to have the nachos free – so all my date had to pay for was his quesadilla, his soda, and mine. My part: $1.50. Yup – cheap first date. For a man who values frugality that was a good thing!

We sat and talked for three hours. He lived 42 miles south of my town. He wasn’t going to move. I wasn’t going to move because I had three teenagers who were in school in our town and I wasn’t going to move them away from that – or leave my church. Does that sound selfish? We ended the date and stood in the parking lot.

“So, what do we do now?” he asked.

“I guess we can be friends?”

Friends who kept calling each other almost every day. We went to a musical the next week. We had dinner and closed out the restaurant. After that date, I gave him a hug because I do hug my friends and that’s all we were going to be. We had a few other dates. I really liked talking to his guy. He ticked off all the right boxes other than location. There were no deal-breakers. He was a godly man and he seemed to like me and accept that I was a tad on the crazy side. My two youngest teens were thrilled for me and liked him when they met him.

All the time I was texting my bestie with reasons why I should just stop seeing him and cease talking to him. She encouraged me to keep giving him a chance. He never did anything to raise any alarm bells.

Our fifth date – before we even kissed. Love the photo-bomber!

I was afraid to trust a man again after what I’d been through.

We didn’t kiss until the fifth date. He respected my boundaries and I told him when the time came I wanted it to be special. When I was ready, I had to make it clear:  I WANT A KISS. Like NOW! He got the message and oh, it was worth the wait!

The next day he surprised me by delivering a dozen long-stemmed red roses with baby’s breath. (swoon!)-in person.

I traveled to Philadelphia for a writer’s conference and had trouble getting home. He was willing to drive to downtown Chicago at 2 am if need be to pick me if that’s where I could fly into. As it was, I made it into Milwaukee, but he still had to wait in the parking lot till almost 3 am as I waited to file a claim on my lost luggage. What a guy!

I texted: “I’m still waiting.”

He responded: “Funny thing, so am I.”

A few days later I had shoulder surgery – torn rotator cuff and bicep was reattached. Awful pain. Long recovery. He came every day to take my dog out, wash dishes, make sure I had ice packs and watched many Marvel movies as well as all of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with me. The poor man hadn’t seen any of those! Sometimes I would fall asleep on his shoulder and then the movie would end and he’d sit there, the screen blank, because he didn’t want to wake me up. He even helped me proof audiobooks, which was about as much I could cope with as far as writing went due to the challenges of recovery. He’s a fan of Hallmark movies so proofing romance novels was not something he had a problem with and it was fun gauging his reactions to the stories. (hint: he really liked them!)

He decided he had nothing keeping him where he was. He was willing to move. He wanted to get married. To me.

No way! I wasn’t going to get married that fast. Ridiculous!

He said, “How about December?”

Absolutely not!

God had other plans. The joke was on me. He proposed, I accepted. He bought a home for us all, and together we worked on remodeling and I underwent physical therapy while trying to plan a wedding and a move to our new home. We underwent vigorous pre-marital counseling. He’d been married almost 40 years. I’d made it to 27 in my previous marriage. God had some healing to do in both of us and my new husband has been a huge part of that process.

December wasn’t a bad month to get married, the church was decorated so beautifully! The pastor asked why the rush. I told him that I refused to have sex until we were married and I really wanted to have sex. A friend who reads my books asked me if I was going to do like I write in my books.

“You mean not have sex until I’m married?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why we’re getting married in December-it’s hard to wait!”

There are so many more stories I could share. Our relationship has been rich in laughter and love, but not everything is for public consumption. and not everyone has been supportive, although the majority of people have been overwhelmingly cheering us on. We’ve settled into our new home and I’m trying to adjust to a new life and how to fit in my writing and editing in the midst of that as I have so much more to live for and enjoy than the escape that my work used to provide. It’s not all love and roses all the time, but it is good – so much better than I could have dreamed for myself. I awake every morning with a smile grateful for the man next to me. That I get to do this life with him.

Someone told me a few years ago “Susan, you just haven’t had your happily-ever-after yet.”

On our wedding day, another friend said: “Now you get to live the happily-ever-after like you always write about.”

God has a sense of humor and He blessed me with a man who not only gets my goofiness but has a great sense of humor as well. One of the things I wrote on my E-Harmony post was that I wanted someone who was willing to dance with me in the kitchen. We have a favorite song for that which was supposed to be the song we walked down the aisle to as husband and wife. Well, the joke was on us as it didn’t happen as planned due to a technical glitch, but I’ll share the song with you anyway because it’s a favorite for us to slow dance to.

And in this crazy life
And through these crazy times
It’s you, it’s you
You make me sing
You’re every line
You’re every word
You’re everything

 

Spatzle Speaks: Her Deadly Reunion (Book Review)

It has been a few years now since my mom reviewed Beth Ziarnik’s best-selling inspirational romantic suspense Her Deadly Inheritance. You can find the review here. So it is with great joy that now I get to review her latest novel, Her Deadly Reunion, A Jill Shepherd Suspense Book 2 a sequel to the first novel.

Jill Shepherd is one of those characters that seems to find herself in difficult situations involving family! She finally gets the chance to meet the father she’s never met and thought was dead. The invitation though to spend the Christmas holiday at his home is not the Norman Rockwell dream any of us would hope for. Her fiance is unable to join her at first. She’s turned away at the door and there’s a snowstorm! Once snuck inside by the devoted nurse, Alice, who extended the invitation, Jill is not met with gracious hospitality by the members of the household, but great disdain.

Her father is gravely ill and thrilled to meet his daughter. His other daughters and mother-in-law are not quite as welcoming. One is willing to embrace her into the family even though their father had an affair (which produced Jill) after their own mother became psychotic after the second child was born.

Soon Jill begins to believe that someone is trying to kill John, her father, and Alice, the private nurse nurtures that fear. When her fiance Clay finally arrives, events are escalating and soon accusations are flying about just who is trying to kill the family patriarch? And why?

This escalates the hostility and John Turner begs his youngest daughter, only recently reunited, to leave for fear that she is in danger, but just what kind of danger? Father is seeking to protect the daughter but the strong-willed daughter is bound and determined to save her father. Clay is trying to keep them all alive and out of jail in the process.

The author keeps you guessing just “who done it” and how, until the very end and once the mystery is resolved, faith blooms and reconciliation can occur… and just maybe a fresh new start for Jill and Clay.

This is a well-written sequel that is hard to put down, which meant I got to snuggle with my mom in her recliner and get lots of loving as she kept reading. For that reason, I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.