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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.

 

Written by
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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8 comments
  • Hi Yvonne,
    Thanks for letting me drop in and settle down. I brought a six pack and some chips, hope you like a nice pilsner, ’cause it’s darned hot down here in Tucson. We agree on one thing for sure, Samantha Lien is a real peach!

    • Hi Shannon,

      The heat of summer has unfortunately left the shores of the UK, however it is very humid tonight, so a beer or two sounds great!

      I really look forward to Sami’s emails, offering opportunities to read books that might normally pass me by and she never gets sassy if I say that a book is too far out of my comfort zone, for me to offer a constructive review. As I read just about anything and everything, with the exception of science fiction and fantasy, happily that doesn’t happen too often!

      “Thank You” for agreeing to stop by with such an emotionally charged and thought provoking guest post, I really enjoyed putting this article together. I would like to wish you every success with the ‘Kate Fox’ series, although there will be plenty more opportunities for me to spread the word, before I’m done 🙂

  • Hey…pass me one of those beers! As it’s only 10:00 am, I’ll stick it in the fridge for later. 😉 And yes, it’s still quite hot and humid in my parts.

    What a powerful guest post! Thank you for putting yourself ‘out there’ like that. It’s always a good reminder for us readers to remember that authors are real people, too. I’m the praying sort, so I’ve said one for Aiden.

    I’ve watched far more movies than read books in this genre, but this sounds interesting enough that I might give it a shot once things calm down in my reading world. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment, but perhaps by the time the final review rolls out on this blog, I’ll be ready to add it to my TBR pile.

    • Hi Kelly,

      There is always a cold beer in the fridge for a friend, especially on nights when it is too hot to even think of sleeping! If these hot summers continue, they will have to think about building homes with air con – now there’s a strange thought for the UK !!

      The way of life Shannon has lived and writes about, I can only guess at, so I am hoping that reading ‘Strpped Bare’ will open a small window onto her world and invite me in.

      Like yourself though, I am completely swamped right now and have had no free time to even make a dent in any of the posts I need to write, let alone get any quality time for reading, so I hope that Shannon will forgive me if ‘Stripped Bare’ doesn’t get the top of my pile any time soon!

      Unfortunately families such as Aiden’s are all too common and familiar in this day and age and I always try to remember that most children are only a reflection of their parents, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive hard to break the cycle.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • This is so true… how often do we talk to ourselves the way we’d never talk to other people? I’ve become more conscious of it and am (gradually) cutting back on it. Gradually.

    And I know what she means about having to hear other people fight in nasty ways or make petty, hurtful comments. I’ve had a lot of that too… there are moments where I need to decide whether to step in or just bite my tongue, because saying something would only drag things out and make them worse.

    • Hi Hila,

      I can totally agree with your second point, about whether to intervene in someone else’s squabbles and often in the scenario I am thinking of, fights, or simply to turn a deaf ear. Becoming involved can often cause more trouble for both them and myself, however ‘passing by on the other side’ and pretending everything will be alright, might have disastrous consequences and then I would never forgive myself. I take it from Shannon’s comments, that she too decided to keep her own counsel about her neighbours problems and I wonder if she ever regrets that decision?

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by, it is always great to hear from you and I always enjoy reading your comments 🙂

  • Great guest post, I agree it is important to be good to yourself. I am guilty of being tough on myself. It is so easy to fall into that habit.
    And how sad when people argue like that and resort to name calling, especially when it involves kids. Like the author mentions verbal abuse can be the main source of the problem to begin with.

    The book sounds good too! Enjoy your weekend Yvonne.

    • Hi Naida,

      No matter what problems may present themselves within the family circle, I really think that there can be no excuse for children being subjected to the verbal tirade which Aiden seems to endure and expect on a regular basis. Adults should have the capacity to show restraint and control around youngsters and keep their family squabbles private and away from the children’s prying eyes and ears.

      It is so easy for an argument which starts off with something as simple as hurtful name calling, to escalate into something much more sinister and potentially physically abusive, and I am certain that this thoughtless and irresponsible behaviour only builds and harbours trouble for the impressionable child further down the line.

      I do agree with Shannon that it is okay and even advantageous to be good to yourself as often as possible, although if, like myself, this simply isn’t in your nature, that involves quite a lot of personality re-training!

      Like yourself, I tend to be quite hard on myself and live my daily life in quite an ordered and prescribed way, which if disrupted too much, really throws me and makes me quite anxious.

      I don’t read too much in the way of fiction with a ‘western’ theme, however when ‘Stripped Bare’ gets to the top of my pile, it will make quite a relaxing break from the run of thrillers I seem to be caught up in right now.

      Thanks for stopping by, the weather here hasn’t been too good today (Saturday), as I think we have the residual dump from the recent storms on your Eastern seaboard. However next week looks set fair, with temperatures on the rise and summer having its final fling 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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