Meet June Shaw. June and I are RWA and SincC members and though we've never met, we have several mutual friends. June's publisher is Five Star Publishing™, publisher of Standard Print Original Fiction. Five Star has hundreds of books in print in the Western, Romance, Mystery and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres, and they publish almost 150 books a year. If you'd like their writers' guidelines, go HERE.
1. Tell us about your path to publication including what you write and where you've been published.
I wanted to be a writer since I was in ninth grade but didn’t try any creative writing until I was the widowed mother of five. I completed my college education here at Nicholls State in Thibodaux and began teaching English I. Awhile afterward, I tried small pieces, eventually selling a few poems and short stories. Over time I read about how to write plays. Two of my one-act plays were produced Off-Off Broadway, and a short screenplay I wrote aired on the New Orleans Channel for the Arts. Then I learned that if I wasn’t going to move to L.A. or work in theatre, I should try novels instead of plays. Novels weren’t easy to sell, but they could be sold from anywhere.
Thus I began to read novels, trying to discover what genre I liked best. I found I loved a combination of mystery, romance and humor – and fell in love with Janet Evanovitch’s early Stephanie Plum books. Using them as models, I sold my first Cealie Gunther mystery, RELATIVE DANGER. Five Star published it in hardcover, and to my great surprise, it received great reviews from Publishers Weekly and many other reviewers. Deadly Ink Press nominated it for their new David award for Best Mystery of the Year. Harlequin bought reprint rights and published it in paperback. Last month Books in Motion published RELATIVE DANGER as an audiobook.
This year Five Star published KILLER COUSINS, second book in the series. It also has received excellent reviews. NY Times bestselling author Heather Graham says, “Killer Cousins is great!”
(These were not the first books I tried to write. Those were practice. And by the time I sold RELATIVE DANGER, I had become the grandmother of eight!)
2. What is your background? (education, work, etc.)
I taught for twenty years, mainly English to ninth graders.
3. What is your writing process? Do you outline or just sit down and start writing?
I create a loose outline with main characters, what each wants and what problems will stop them. I also have to know my ending before I start so that I’ll know where I’m going.
4. What does a typical day look like for you?
There doesn’t seem to be a typical. My favorite for writing is to get up early, read my Daily Word, and bring a cup of coffee to my computer. Then without disruptions, I write for hours.
That seldom happens since I love to do things with my family and often drive grandkids to or from practice or watch their games. And my squeeze Bob likes lots of my time. And I try to keep close to my friends.
5. What is your favorite self-marketing idea?
Get your name out there. Nike and Coke probably don’t need much advertising, yet they continue to put their names out there. I try to do the same.
6. What is the biggest challenge you face in writing and publishing?
I am handicapped at organizing my time. (God’s fault: ) Organizing my time wasn’t a talent He wanted me to have.)
7. What are the biggest surprises you've encountered as a writer?
The main surprise was how much time I would have to spend to promote myself and my writing.
8. How do you inspire yourself? What are your sources of creativity?
Someone larger than I am inspires me to write and gives me creativity.
10. What is your proudest writer moment?
Receiving my first contract – holding my first book in my hands: It’s a toss-up. Both were terrific.
11. What's the best advice you were given about writing and do you belong/believe in critique groups?
The advice was if you want to be a writer, write. Also, read. Read and write some more. Keep doing that until some of your work is published.
I normally share work with one to three people online.
12. How much (and what) do you read for pleasure?
I read mainly at night in bed and read mostly in my genre—humorous mysteries. That’s the type of book I like best.
14. What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the third Cealie Gunther book, which takes place on a cruise ship in Alaska. (Okay, somebody’s got to do all of this research. The captain, ship’s doctor and other crew members loved to give me info.) Cealie will meet up with a group of her classmates that she hasn’t seen in years.
15) What professional organizations do you belong to and why?
I belong to RWA, MWA, SinC, PASIC and others. Sometimes it seems like too many since skimming the online loops takes up much time, but it gets my name out there. Most people in these groups are willing to share lots of information and are really supportive.
Wrap up: Anything exciting happening in your publishing world? Tell us about any stories, articles, etc you have coming out that we can look for.
Having books published is so exciting! Readers say my books are lots of fun. I hope you all will hop over to my Web site, , and take a look. I haven’t added the audio book of RELATIVE DANGER yet since it just came out, but you can check that out HERE.
Thank you so much, Jessy, for having me here. The best to you and all of your readers. June