It’s my privilege to introduce my daughter-in-law, Shaen Layle (Mehl), to our followers. I’m sure those of you still looking to be published can relate to her struggle balancing family and writing time.
I recently asked her to work with me on some upcoming projects. Sometime next year, I expect to see our names together on some book covers. After that, I predict you’ll see her in print – without her mother-in-law to hold her back! LOL!
She is so talented but better yet, she is a very special person. A great wife, mother and daughter-in-law. I am so blessed to have her in my life. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her.
INTERVIEW WITH SHAEN LAYLE
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I don't know that I can pinpoint an exact moment because like a lot of writers, I loved words from an early age. When I was a kid, I
was enamored with books, making up stories, and creating characters. Most of the time I wrote on my own, but I do have a vivid memory of crafting an elaborate play based on the Clue board game one summer and then forcing my cousins to act it out for our relatives! (The cousins still speak to me, thankfully :) )
When I became I teen (and everyone started asking the million-dollar question- "what do you want to be when you grow up?"), I realized I just wanted to be around books. Reading them, writing them, thinking about them. And so I pursued that. I entered writing contests. I read voraciously. I collected particularly interesting phrases for poems in a little polka-dotted notebook. Inspired by Janette Oke's books, I wrote my first novel, a middle-grade historical, when I was twelve. And then finally, I got my Bachelor's in Creative Writing and my Masters in Library Science to ensure I would indeed always be surrounded by words :)
You have a very busy life. How does that affect your writing? How do you compensate?
Sometimes, I think being busy breeds productivity. In my twenties, before I married and had kids, I had tons of time to write, but I often didn't unless the mood struck me just right. It was only after having a family and the pace getting considerably more frantic that I realized, hey, if I want to make this writing dream happen, I have to create some time for it. That said, the time I'm able to create fluctuates from day to day, as nap schedules change and my kids enter new phases. I can almost always count on a bit of time, either before they wake up or during Quiet Time (when my oldest draws and my youngest naps) to work. I try to use car time to think through plots. My husband is also great to wrangle the kids into submission with waffles and cartoons on Saturday morning so I can get an uninterrupted block of time that way. It's nice to have that kind of support!
You and your husband (my son!) have started your own business. Tell us about that.
Last fall, my husband pursued his life-long dream of starting his own graphic design business, Danny Mehl Studio. He's also in the beginning stages of launching an e-book publishing company, which has already re-released several series by you, Nancy, that you've gotten the rights back to. I help him out with a lot of the administrative and organizational work for both businesses right now, and we have plans to seek out other authors soon and hopefully pool our knowledge of advertising, design, editing, social media, etc. to offer promotional services along with publishing.
What have you learned so far in your writing journey? The good, the bad and the ugly!
For me, I've learned that self-criticism and comparison are real creativity killers. I have to ask God to guard my heart and mind so that I stay open to creative possibilities and remain original, rather than just trying to copy someone else's style. I also have to fight perfectionism, which I'm sure a lot of writers deal with. It can be so tough to get the ink flowing sometimes! But eventually, we all just have to launch out there and realize that writing's nothing less than an extension of what we do every day in our real lives- put ourselves out there, in all our frailty and vulnerability, to impact the world in a positive way.
As far as your writing, where do you hope to be in five years? Ten?
I have always been a planner (sometimes to a fault!), so I'd love to give you a detailed timeline of where I see my life and career headed over the next decade. If I've learned anything as I've grown older, though, it's to keep working toward goals but only if I can hold them loosely. If I get so caught up in flowcharts and spreadsheets that I'm not listening to God's promptings in my life, then there's no point to my action. I've always felt writing was my calling, so I plan to pursue that to my fullest capability however God leads me.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I'd just like to thank you for having me on the Suspense Sisters today! I feel honored to be in this space in the company of some really great readers and writers.