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Heber Springs author strives for ‘clean romance’

By Jeanni Brosius

This article was published May 6, 2012 at 1:59 a.m.

— A waterfall is the backdrop for romance.

At least that’s what Heber Springs author Shannon Taylor Vannatter thought when she wrote a series of contemporary Christian romance novels set in Romance and Rose Bud.

Sitting on a rock with a Romance waterfall cascading behind her, Vannatter explained that she had had a story rolling around in her head for years before she finally wrote it.

“From the time I was 12, I had a stor y in my head, and I’d change the ending,” she said. “I always saw it as a movie, but when I was 30,it finally hit me that it could be a book. … Three years later, my father-in-law got a new computer and gave me his old one. I sat down and wrote that book, and it’s still not published.”

She said her book started out being a “clean romance,” until she learned about the Christian romance genre.

It took 10 years, but Vannatter finally landed a contract for a three-book series with Heartsong Presents Book Club.

She said she had quit counting her rejection letters when she received her 200th.

She said she was at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Minneapolis when she had the opportunity to speak to a representative from Barbour Publishing, which owned Heartsong Presents Book Club. She said Barbour recently sold Heartsong Presents to Harlequin.

When she pitched her idea to the representative, Vannatter said, she was asked to submit her entire manuscript. It took her a couple of months to get the manuscript ready, and after submitting it in December 2008, she said she had a contract in January 2009.

The three titles in her first series are White Roses, White Doves and White Pearl s , which are set in Romance an Rose Bud. The first two books in her second series are Rodeo Dust and Rodeo Hero. The third book, Rodeo Ashes, is scheduled to be released in August.

The characteristics of the hero in each of her books are based on her husband, Grant, but the heroines look different in each story. Because each book in a series is a continuation of the one before it, Vannatter said it can be challenging to keep the flow going from book to book.

She said she keeps a spread sheet detailing eye and hair color and key components of the characters, so they stay consistent throughout the entire series.

Out of the 14 books she has written, six have been published. Her newest three-book series for Heartsong Presents is set in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

She said her inspiration for her second series hit her when she was at the Arkansas State Fair.

“I saw a cowboy with Wranglers and a cowboy hat, and he was holding hands with a woman in a business suit and suede boots,” she said with a smile.

She said she gets her inspiration from observing. It could be something she hears, sees or experiences.

Before she became an author, Vannatter worked as a hairdresser for 10 years, thenas a loan clerk at a bank and a data-entry clerk at Aromatique Inc. After her son, Sam, was born 10 years ago, Vannatter became a stay-at-home mom and a full-time author.

She said she writes during the day while her son is at school, and in the summertime, she writes after everyone goes to bed until around 2 a.m.

“Everyone thinks I’m rich, but I’m not,” she said as she brushed her dark hair from her face.

With the sound of the waterfall rushing behind her, Vannatter said she has thought about taking her laptop out there to write.

The waterfall is on private property owned by James “Buck” Weatherly, and he rents out his place for weddings, reunions and other events. Because it played a major role in Vannatter’s first book series, she held her first book signing there.

Vannatter said that in September 2013, all of her books will be sold in Walmart stores, but right now, the books are available in Christian bookstores and online.

She will have a book signing at the Bible House in Searcy from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, and another at Kathy’s Book Nook in Heber Springs from 1-3 p.m. May 19.

For more information on the Romance waterfall, visit romancewaterfalls.net.

Read Vannatter’s blog and learn more about her books at shannonvannatter.com.

Staff writer Jeanni Brosius can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or jbrosius@arkansasonline.com.

River Valley Ozark, Pages 148 on 05/06/2012

Print Headline: Heber Springs author strives for ‘clean romance’

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