New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
Shelley Shepard Gray

Twenty Things About Twenty Books for Avon Inspire

Posted Mar 11 2014, 8:53 am in

HOPEFUL marks a pretty big occasion for me. It’s my 20th Amish romance to be published by Avon Inspire, and what a journey it’s been!

I thought I’d commemorate the occasion by sharing 20 tidbits about writing these books. If you’ve read some of the novels, I hope you’ll find these ‘behind the scenes’ notes kind of fun.

If you’ve never read any of my books~I hope you’ll be tempted to give one of my books a try!

So, here are 20 thoughts about my books, in no particular order:

·        PEACE was the easiest to write, mainly because I had known I wanted to write Chris and Beth’s story from the moment I finished The Search. I wrote PEACE in just about a month.

·        AUTUMN’S PROMISE was the hardest, mainly because of Lilly Allen. I had planned to make her become Amish the whole time I was writing the series. But when I was writing the last 60 pages or so, I couldn’t do it. Days went by when I’d stare at the computer, getting more stressed out. When I started crying at the dinner table, my husband had to remind me that Lilly wasn’t real. (the things my husband has to put up with!)

·        The prologue for HIDDEN was written in about an hour on a Friday night, after I had already completed revisions. My editor sent me a quick email asking me to write a scene showing just how scared Ana really was of her fiancée, I wrote it, she edited it, I approved it, and then it went to the copy editor. It was a crazy night!

·        My favorite character in the original Seasons of Sugarcreek books was Anson. I taught elementary school for about 10 years, and he reminded me of some of those squirrely boys in my classes.

·        Ella’s creepy friend Dorothy in The Protector wasn’t supposed to be in the book. But when she came along, I had so much fun writing about her scenes I let her stay~even though I was *sure* my editor was going to tell me she was too over- the-top. (She didn’t, and The Protector was my first book to be a bestseller and was nominated for the Carol Award.)

·        Each day before I would write Mattie’s scenes in the Families of Honor series, I would read a blog I had found on the internet that a 20 year old breast cancer patient was writing. Mattie’s scenes were some of the hardest things I’ve ever written. Every time she cried, I did too. Because of that, I never reread that series. That said, I’ve also received the most fan mail about Mattie and the Family of Honor books. I think Mattie’s journey touched a lot of people.

·        I wrote the quotes introducing each chapter in the Secrets of Crittenden County as an attempt for me to learn more about the elusive Perry Borntrager. I had assumed they’d be deleted by my editor, but she liked them too!

·        I pitched the storyline for Secrets of Crittenden County to my editor while we were eating lunch at a tapas restaurant in San Francisco. I was very nervous to tell her I wanted to begin a series with someone finding an Amish boy at the bottom of a well.

·        The setting for my first series, Sisters of the Heart is based on a small Amish community about an hour from my house. There is no ‘real’ Brennemen Bed and Breakfast, though I’m asked directions to it all the time.

·        Lovina Keim, the matriarch of the days of redemption series was my least favorite character for a very long time. After writing the first half of Daybreak, I highlighted all of her scenes and placed them in a file to be deleted! I was going to change her to be far more kind and loving~but then something made me keep her as she was. I’m glad I did.

·        I wrote A Christmas for Katie for fun, intending to maybe post it once a week as a serial. It was almost done when I received a contract for it.

·        Miriam and Kaylene read Little Women in Hopeful because that is my favorite movie to watch with my daughter. We know all the lines! I also wrote a term paper titled ‘A Literary Analysis of Little Women from the Feminist Perspective’ when I was in college.

·        The dachshund in Daybreak is based on Suzy, our 12 year old dachshund.  

·        We had a tough time coming up with Ray of Light’s title. It became a joke, (should it be titled noon? Midday? Afternoon?) The title came about because was listening to Pandora one day while I was writing and heard Madonna’s song, Ray of Light.

·        Everyone eats pie in my books because I really like pie. I usually have one character like coconut cream pie because that’s my favorite.

·        I asked a Denver Police Detective tons of questions while writing Missing, The Search, and Found. I also toured my town’s police station and asked them to show me where their holding cell was.

·        My biggest set of revisions was for The Caregiver, mainly because I had done so much research about Amtrak and the Toledo Zoo. Those scenes took up almost 100 pages. 100 boring pages! Most of it was cut, which meant I had to quickly write another 100 pages that weren’t boring.

·        The least amount of revisions was for GRACE. It was one of the few books I’ve written that I actually liked right away. It’s also my Amish friend’s favorite book.

·         Turns out I’m a fan of disasters. I had a fire in Forgiven, a tornado in The Survivor, Snowstorms in several books and a flood in Spring’s Renewal.

·        The characters are accident-prone, too! I’ve had heroines in the hospital in Forgiven, The Caregiver, The Protector, The Search, and in Eventide.



2 responses to “Twenty Things About Twenty Books for Avon Inspire”

  1. Melanie Backus says:

    I love your twenty things. And boy, do I love dachshunds. I have two!

    melback at cebridge dot net

  2. Jeanette Styer says:

    I love your twenty things also. But I see I’m going to have to reread some of your books. Because I don’t remember the fire or tornado. And I have all of your Amish books Jeanette

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