I'm thrilled to have Shawna K. Williams visiting Dark Glass Ponderings. I read and reviewed No Other in August. Shawna has had a busy season with both a November and a December release, In All Things and Orphaned Hearts. Thank you for being here, Shawna.
How exciting that you have not one, but two new releases this Holiday Season. I understand Orphaned Hearts, to be released in December, is about adoption. This is a subject that is dear to my own heart as my husband and I are praying to adopt from India. Can you tell me a bit about your inspiration for this novel?
My granddad was an orphan, and I've often pondered his childhood and the stories he and my grandmother shared. I had thought for some time that I wanted to write a story about an orphan. I knew churches were involved with orphanages back in the day because as a child my granddad traveled to speak in various congregations to help get support. I also knew that his experiences played a role in my grandparents' decision to be foster parents.
The original idea began with a preacher, who'd been an orphan, looking for a home for an orphaned boy who was special to him. Somewhere in there that boy became handicapped, the preacher became scarred, and a wealthy spinster who loved to bake showed up.
(What a neat idea for a holiday story! How wonderful to have such a family legacy and to be able to share it through your books).
Do you have a favorite Christmas memory to share?
I can't say that I have one particular Christmas memory that stands out as my favorite. What I do know is that Christmas brings a wealth of memories from my childhood that sort of jumble into this wonderful cozy feeling centered around time spent with family at my grandparents' house. There are smells, sounds and objects that trigger this feeling: the scent of pine, the smell of wood burning, creaking wood floors, crunchy leaves underfoot, the woods, trains, blackberry jam, crystal chandeliers, funny shaped Christmas trees, a fat red and white Basset Hound or a dingy white German Sheppard, snow and the sound of gravel beneath rolling tires. None of these would mean anything if they hadn't been accompanied with tons of laughter and love. This was Nonnie and Papa's house at Christmas time, and it was the most magical place in the world.
(What a beautiful picture you paint, Shawna!)
Do you have a favorite holiday food?
Pecan pie! I've been making this for years, but here's the rundown:
3 eggs, 1 cup light corn syrup, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tbsp vanilla (I like a few drops extra) and 1 &1/4 cup pecans. Mix it all together. Then line pie crust edges with foil, pour in filling, and bake for 25 minutes at 350. Remove foil, and bake another 25 minutes or until done. Yum!
(Sounds really easy! My pecan pie came out too runny this Thanksgiving, think I'll give your recipe a try sometime).
You have a wonderful gift with jewelry making. Do you have any particular item of jewelry that holds a special meaning for you?
Pertaining to what I make: I like designing jewelry with freshwater pearls. I think they are a wonderful representation of God's Grace. In the way that an oyster takes an irritant and coats it to create a pearl, God takes the pain of our sin and through His grace transforms it into something beautiful – our own unique testimony of His love.
As for something special to me. I have a charm with an angel holding three hearts. It represents the three babies I lost in miscarriages. I also have a necklace that I recently passed on to my daughter that was a gift to my grandmother from her father, when she was sixteen.
I notice Orphaned Hearts takes place in the Great Depression. How did you choose that era to write about?
Not sure. It just seemed right. I love 20th century historicals.
I am also thrilled to see that you’re a homeschooler, too! Do you have any tips for helping children develop a love of learning, whether we are teachers or parents?
During the first years we homeschooled I treated it very much like an institutional setting. It hit me one day, as my son groaned over being forced to read a story in his reader, that the stories didn't interest him. He'd learned to dread reading. I scrapped the reader and replaced it with books from the library that he selected, with my approval. Information is absorbed much easier when the reader is engaged and interested.
(I learned this the hard way, too. Now my daughter and I are doing a literature-based curriculum and she loves school!)
Do you have a favorite person in the Bible?
King David. His heart, his faith, even his failings inspire me in my walk with God.
Do you have any tips for those who are aspiring authors?
We've all heard the phrase, 'write what you know.' I think it's equally important, if not more-so, that an author writes who they are. Yes, we have to learn the craft, pay attention to trends and whatnot. Those things are important. Just be sure that in doing so you don't lose yourself. People are touched by stories that are sincere, and those come from the heart.
We would love an excerpt from Orphaned Hearts!
David ran back to the bench and removed his suit jacket. Sadie raised her brow. In the five years she'd known him, he'd never been without a coat and tie. A little peculiar -- yes -- however, he did take his position as a minister seriously. Perhaps Caleb was also helping David to realize that ministers could take time off for fun.
"Join us," David said.
"Join you?" Sadie looked down at her 'too full to be fashionable' skirt and then at her gloved hands. No telling how much flour was caked beneath her nails.
"You are the same girl who ran around in overalls, hoping to be a miner someday?"
She glanced up and noted David's challenging smirk. Suddenly the ball hit her in the shin. Caleb broke out into a fit of laughter.
With her youthful, tomboyish spirit revived, Sadie narrowed her eyes, shooting Caleb and then David an 'I'll-show-you' look. As an only child she'd fulfilled the roles of both daughter and son. Neither David nor Caleb had any idea just what she was capable of. If she was still capable?
Sadie picked up the ball and stepped away from the bench. She carefully set it on the ground and took two long steps back. She glanced at the ball, then -- squinting her eyes -- looked through the rays of sunlight streaming through the trees, off into the horizon and imagined the ball flying into the distant mountains.
Furrowing her brow in concentration, Sadie fixed her gaze on the ball, lifted her skirt to her knees and took in a deep breath. Then she rushed toward her target, slinging her right foot back and propelling it forward. It connected in a loud thud. She watched as the ball flew higher and higher, threading between the trees and disappearing from sight.
Sadie dropped her skirt and heaved a satisfied sigh as she dusted her hands. Both David and Caleb stood frozen with their mouths gaping wide.
"Wow!" Caleb gawked and took off running in search of the ball -- which may very well have rolled down the base of the hill. She hadn't considered that. Suddenly her mothering instinct kicked in. "Caleb, wait. There could be snakes."
Shaking his head, David chuckled. "I'll go with him." The spring in his jog showed of amusement more than worry.
Sadie smiled as she watched David close the distance. A euphoric sensation surged through her, and some strange power beckoned her feet to take flight.
Not just her feet. Her heart.
Would you like a chance to win Shawna William's e-book, Orphaned Hearts AND a pair of Swarovski crystal Christmas tree earrings?
What is your favorite holiday-related food?
Please include your email in this format:
name (at) wherever (dot) com
Giveaway will end Thursday, December 16th!