Welcome to Living the Write Life, Shellie! It's a pleasure to have you here. Please tell us a little about yourself. Who is Shellie Neumeier, the gal next door?
Hi there and thank you so much for having me, Delia. As for who I am? That is something I am still discovering every day. :) I’m goofy and serious, smart and hair-brained, a foodie who hates to cook. Weird things always happen to me and I’m proud to say my children are following their mother in that venue. If there’s a restaurant plate that falls, it was mine; a piece of luggage inspected, Yours Truly’s; and on it goes. Some may look upon this with their hands drawn to their mouths in utter gratefulness it isn’t their life I’m speaking of, but I enjoy it. God has a sense of humor and I love it when He shares it with me. :)
How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?
Before I began writing fiction, I wrote technical pieces and made minor non-fiction contributions to a published business book. My fiction journey began in April of 2010. So depending on how you look at it, the answer may vary from not long to several years.
Writing wasn’t something I always wanted to do either. I suffered through English, Creative Writing, and Advanced Comp. classes. It left a bitter taste for all things written for a long time. But I’ve learned that writing is not just about the commas, it’s about the story and the characters. When they come to life in your imagination, they take over and for a moment, you live in their world surviving the adventure they take. That’s a whole lot more fun than punctuation for me. So, I’ve learned to be very kind (and grateful…to the point of chocolates, even) to my critique partners and editors.
I know you’re excited about your new release, A Summer in Oakville. This book is co-authored with Lisa Lickel, whom I'm honored to count among my own friends (even though we've never actually met). Your first novel, Driven, was authored by you alone. Writing an entire novel with another person has to be a different kind of experience. So I'm curious…what did you like about it? What was your least favorite part of the process? Would you do it again?
Lisa is a sweetheart! I consider her my mentor, though we never formalized anything. I’ve learned so much through her. I am honored to be alongside her in this endeavor. As for writing in tandem and flying solo, you are right. They are totally different experiences.
I loved that our two very different styles of writing worked together harmoniously. Lisa is so strong in her romantic writing and editing skills…I am not. She had quite a job on her hands when it came time to edit the romantic scenes in my two novellas, but she made them shine.
In turn, I used whatever gifts God gave me to add a bit here and there and viola, this sweet, linked-novella collection was born.
Writing alone may give you the freedom to follow your plot anywhere you’d like it to go, but writing together provides a support system that strengthens the story. It’s like having a constant critique partner working through all the kinks, every step of the way.
Tell us about A Summer in Oakville, and what inspired this story.
A Summer in Oakville began as a novella collection written for a specific publishing house, so the parameters it started under were dictated by the requirements of that house. However, the nuts and bolts of the story came from Wisconsin traditions and lifestyles that both Lisa and I have bumped into at some point in our lives.
Rural Wisconsin is rich in family stories, strength of character, and a little stubbornness thrown in for fun. Creating a story built upon the potential loss of a heritage and the threads that pull and keep a family together, made sense. The two go hand-in-hand.
Now that the book is in print, have you ever wished you’d written any scene/character/plot twist, etc., differently than you did?
There is one scene that Lisa and I mulled over numerous times and to this day didn’t find the error that one reader found. It is a small thread that weaves between all four books and in one or two of the novellas, the thread begins to fray a bit. I won’t mention what it is or which thread. Maybe one of your readers will find it. :D You’ll have to really look, it’s tiny.
What author most influenced your writing style?
Normally, I would say Mark Twain or Frank Perretti. I enjoy their voice and the stories they create, but neither style nor voice would have been appropriate for this book. A Summer in Oakville has a style all its own.
Do you have a favorite verse of scripture? If so, what makes it special to you?
My favorite scripture comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13. I love knowing God will not let me face something beyond what everyone else can face and He won’t make me go through something He doesn’t think I can handle without providing a way through (or out). Sometimes I wonder if He thinks I can handle more than I really can…but in the end, He always turns out to be right. Love that.
What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial to you in developing
your writing career?
Hmm. One piece of advice…I’d have to say it was to persevere. This career choice isn’t one for the faint of heart or for the person who needs much encouragement. It can be painful (like when you first open the freshly critiqued manuscript and see all the red mess) and discouraging (like when rejections far outnumber any acceptances), but it can be filled with tremendous fulfillment as you close the word doc to your finished piece and know you’ve done your best. For that brief moment your story is the best thing ever written and will become a best-seller. You just know it. You may even go to bed that night, dreaming of the awards it will win.
Then you wake up the next morning, grab a cup of tea, and reopen the doc file. In the light of day, your commas are askew, your characters flat and wimpy, and your middle saggy. You want to stop. I want to stop.
That’s when I listen to that little voice that once told me to keep going. Just finish it. Or in her words, “Aren’t you done yet, Mommy?”
Where can readers find your books? Do you have a website, blog, etc.?
Readers can find the books at:
A Summer in Oakville:
Black Lyon Publishing
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Folks can connect with me at:
Facebook (or A Summer in Oakville Page)
Or my website
SHELLIE NEUMEIER holds a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a minor in Psychology, Sociology and Social Studies. A devoted mother of four, Shellie previously worked on staff with Northbrook Church as the King’s Kids ministry assistant (serving children in grades 2nd through 5th). Shellie’s other works include her best-selling YA novel, Driven, is available from Risen Fiction and her middle grade chapter book The Wishing Ring will release February 2012. She is an active member of SCBWI and ACFW as well as a contributing author for various blogs. Shellie is located in southeastern Wisconsin.
A Summer in Oakville Blurb:
Tessa Hasmer Murphy has a secret. Estranged from her husband, will she let a past love and a fight to save the family farm destroy her marriage and daughter Lindsay's happiness?
Lindsay Murphy plans to live on her grandparents' farm until she can find a job, but developer Brandon Calloway has other plans for the property. As she wages war against him, will she lose her heart and the farm both?
Widower Arthur Hasmer's life and that of his son, Andy, spiral out of control. When old friend, Dana London, reenters the picture, God might work through her to help them all back to love, joy and faith.
Andy Hasmer has the ultimate bummer life. No mom, not much of a dad, no future. When he's sent to the farm and wrecks the truck, nothing could be worse than the lousy job he takes to pay Grampa back-except maybe putting up with the pastor's daughter, Ella.