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‘A Kinder, Gentler Writer’ By Shannon Baker

Having only ever read a couple of books featuring mysteries with a ‘Western’ theme, when this great new series and its interesting author, was introduced to me by the lovely Samantha Lien, from publicity company ‘Roger Charlie’, with the Kindle download being facilitated by the folks at NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to dip into the genre again and to be part of the promotional tour.

To coincide with the book’s official release in September 2016, Shannon agreed to stop by with this very personal guest post, which also holds an important message and tenet, that might benefit each and every one of us.

Hi! I’m SHANNON BAKER

Image Of Author Shannon Baker

Having grown up with a father who worked in big retail, my family moved around frequently, living in California, Colorado, and Missouri. I married a rancher and moved to the Nebraska Sandhills for nearly 20 years, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. After escaping Nebraska, I continued the nomadic life, moving seven times in ten years and while it may seem schizophrenic, it helped to create the incredible western settings in my novels.

I have now ‘settled’ in Tucson, Arizona, with my favorite person, and my Weimaraner, Jezebel and whilst a devout fan of the beautiful Arizona sunsets, I am still, and always will be a Nebraska Husker. “Go Big Red!”

My ‘Nora Abbott’ mystery series, is a fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder, set in Flagstaff, AZ, where I lived for several years and worked for The Grand Canyon Trust, a hotbed of environmentalists who, usually, don’t resort to murder.  It was a 2013 finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.

I serve on the board for RMFW, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and am also
an active member of International Thriller Writers , and Western Writers of America . I have
also been a featured keynote speaker for Friends of CU Libraries .

Keep up to date with all the latest news on my website

Follow me on Twitter

Connect with me on Facebook

My latest ‘Kate Fox’ mystery series, will be loved by all fans of character driven stories in a western setting, who will appreciate and enjoy the landscape brought to life in the Nebraska Sandhills. The first book in this exciting new series is …

STRIPPED BARE

Kate Fox is living the dream. She’s married to Grand County Sheriff Ted Conner, the heir to her beloved Nebraska Sandhills cattle ranch, where they live with Kate’s orphaned teenage niece, Carly. With the support of the well-connected Fox Clan, which includes Kate’s eight boisterous and interfering siblings, Ted’s reelection as Grand County Sheriff is virtually assured. That leaves Kate to the solitude and satisfaction of Frog Creek, her own slice of heaven.

One night Kate answers a shattering phone call from Roxy at the Bar J. Carly’s granddad Eldon, owner of the ranch, is dead and Ted has been shot and may never walk again. Kate vows to find the killer. She soon discovers Ted responded so quickly to the scene because he was already at the Bar J . . . in Roxy’s bed. And to add to her woes, Carly has gone missing.

Kate finds out that Eldon was considering selling his ranch to an obscenely rich environmentalist. Some in town hate the idea of an outsider buying up land, others are desperate to sell . . . and some might kill to get their way. As she becomes the victim of several “accidents,” Kate knows she must find the killer before it’s too late. . . .

Clicking on the book’s cover image will link you directly to its Amazon ‘buy’ page.

Check out the opening lines of this story, here.

Image Of Author Shannon Baker

‘A KINDER, GENTLER WRITER’

“You’re an idiot!”

Those terrible words slam over my six foot backyard fence. The irate holler is followed by a tone so filled with disgust it singes my skin. “Get your ass over here. Put that down.”

I am paralyzed. The scene I was working on vanishes from my mind’s eye and my breath catches.

“You stupid moron!”

A young voice, that of Aiden, my eight year-old neighbor, whines back in argument and what follows is five minutes of the grandfather and grandson sniping at each other with the “adult” flinging out more name-calling.

This scene played out roughly once a week. I didn’t live there long, but I’m sure that had been going on for a long time. The conflict wasn’t confined to this one relationship. Three generations next door waged frequent battle where I may not overhear words but the hateful tone was clear.

It stopped me dead every time with a visceral reaction. My breath stuttered, my heart raced, my skin grew clammy. I’ve always hated conflict. Even as a kid, while my brother and sister clashed over any number of childhood problems, I’d be in the corner crying.

Why couldn’t my neighbors be nice to each other? Speak with kindness, encourage each other, especially Aiden?

I won’t guarantee Aiden isn’t an idiot. He might or might not be—he’d climbed our fence and done malicious mischief in our backyard, dug a hole under a tree in the front, threw rocks through our neighbor’s garage windows, and flung a case of empty jars against the fence, shattering glass in our alley. Obviously, he’s a troubled kid with needs I can only guess at. But telling him that’s he’s a moron or an idiot won’t improve his IQ or his behavioral problems. That kind of verbal battering might actually be at the root of the problem.

As disturbing as that situation is—and believe me, I am not making light of it—it brought home a powerful personal message to me.

While I clenched my fists and teeth during one such episode, and thought that some kindness and gentleness might bring about more cooperation and greater potential, a realization struck me. How often do I treat myself with that same impatience and contempt?

I know, we’re writers and a certain amount of that self-deprecating attitude with a dollop of insecurity goes with the job description. But I’ve been particularly abusive of myself lately. Whatever the details of my shortcomings, it all amounts to me calling myself a stupid moron and telling me to get my ass to my computer and write decent stuff.

Maybe it’s time I treat myself with the same encouragement and pride I wish for Aiden. Instead of tossing aside the colorful crayon picture and focusing on the failing report card, I ought to pin the picture to the refrigerator and shrug over the F, promising that failure isn’t permanent and I will succeed if I keep trying.

Nothing good comes of negative talk, even if it’s only going on between my ears. So I’m making a pledge to start speaking nicer to myself. I’m going to treat me with the same courtesy and respect I try to give to others. It couldn’t hurt. It might help.

What kind of encouraging things do you do for yourself?

If you’ve got a moment, send a special thought into the universe for Aiden. And even if it’s only for today, be kind to yourself.

Image Of Author Shannon Baker

Because the goal in writing is always to get to the truth of a character, dig inside and find out what drives them and how they feel, I think there is a part of me in every character I write.

 

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Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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