Wednesday, March 14, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH SHAEN LAYLE




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.

Nancy Mehl 



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.




Everyone who leaves her a comment will have a chance to win one of my books on Kindle. You can choose from my Ivy Towers series, my Curl Up and Dye series, or my newly released Harmony series. Be sure to mention the book you’d like along with your comment. And leave your contact information so I can let you know if you've won.  

Nancy

49 comments:

  1. I so enjoyed meeting Shaen! And I look forward to reading her books...and yours!

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! I’m really looking forward to working with Nancy ��

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  2. Hi Nancy & Shaen, I enjoyed this interview and I look forward to reading your book/books in the near future. Thanks for a chance to win an eBook and I would enjoy Simple Deceits. Blessings to both of you.
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, Connie! I enjoyed Nancy’s Simple series, too.

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  3. Shaen, it's great to meet you and learn a bit about your writing journey. Keep going and good things will happen for you.
    David

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    1. Thank you, David! I always enjoy hearing about writers’ journeys and am glad you enjoyed reading. Thanks for the kind encouragement!

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  4. Hello. Bumping Off Binky sounds good!!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tammy! Bumping Off Binky is a fun one.

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  5. Nice to learn more about you, Shaen. I look forward to reading your work. I would love to read the last book in the curl up and die series. A Wedding to Die For.

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    1. Thanks so much, Nancy! A Wedding to Die For is one I haven’t read yet, either, but I’m looking forward to it.

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    2. Sorry, Nancy, I meant to type A Wedding to Dye For earlier!

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  6. Great interview, Nancy! Shaen said: "...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." This is so true and SO wise! I can't count how many times God's ideas were SO much better than my own plan for myself!

    You are blessed to have a husband (and son) who can do the technical/artistic things for you! My husband does that for me too and it's such a great combination! Wishing you both all the best!

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    1. Thanks so much for your sweet comment, Deborah! God’s ways are best (even though I admit it sometimes takes a bird’s eye view for stubborn little me to get things in the proper perspective!).

      I am so very blessed by my husband and amazed by the man he is, talents and otherwise. He had a pretty good mama and papa raising him, though!

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  7. Shaen, great wisdom in these words: “...self-criticism and comparison are real creativity killers. I have to ask God to guard my heart and mind...”. That’s a wonderful foundation for your writing journey.

    Karen Ball

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    1. Thanks so much, Karen! I plan on printing out some verses soon to keep beside my computer as a reminder, so I’ll keep that foundation fresh! It was nice to meet you at ACFW a few years back, and I hope you’re doing well!

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  8. Enjoyed the interview. Shaen, what genre are you wanting to publish?

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    1. Thank you, Ann! The project I’ll be working on with Nancy is cozy mystery, though I’m working on a contemporary romance (sweet, small-town setting) on my own right now.

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  9. loved reading your Ivy Towers books, and the Curl up and Dye series. I would love to get the A Wedding to Dye for book as I still haven't read it.

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    1. I'll need to know who you are and how to contact you if you should win!

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    2. Thanks, those are great books! Just leave your info in case you’re chosen as the winner (it would be a shame to miss out on free books!).

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  10. Nice to learn about you Shaen. Keeping it all in the family.
    Bumping off Binky sounds interesting to me.
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Gail! It’s been great having a love of writing in common with Nancy. We have lots of great conversations!

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  11. Enjoyed your interview Shaen. Nancy is one of my favorite authors (top 5) and I know she's been a great mentor for you. Looking forward to reading what you've written.

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    1. Thanks so much, Pat! She has been a tremendous help and source of encouragement, writing-wise, and she’s also been a great MIL. I’m very thankful for her!

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  12. Great interview! I'm jealous of your actual book-related degrees. I SO didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, though I was always an avid reader. It wasn't until I was a CPA for several years that I realized I needed something more creative to do "forever." Too much creativity in accounting gets you sent on holiday courtesy of the government. ;)

    Anyway, you have a great MIL. I look forward to reading your collaborations with her.

    DeAnna Dodson/Julianna Deering

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    1. Thanks, DeAnna! I really enjoyed getting both of those degrees, though can I say I’m jealous of your gorgeous book covers? I actually said an audible “wow” when I saw Murder at the Mikado the first time!

      And yep, nobody wants a government-enforced holiday, lol!

      I couldn’t ask for a nicer MIL, and I’m blessed to be able to work with her.

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    2. Thank you! I wish I could take credit for that beautiful cover on Mikado, but I'm quite proud of it anyway. So stylish and perfect for the story. THAT is Drew. :::happy sigh::: ;)

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  13. I'm sure that you are going to have a great future in writing, just look at your close example. I love Christian mywsteries. dixiegran@gmail.com

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Judy. Mysteries are enjoyable to read!

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  14. I enjoyed reading this. I've read quite a few books written by Nancy Mehl and liked them all! I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy reading that new one pictured (Bumping off Binky) or the others listed, too!
    allofakindmom at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks so much, Rosalyn! Bumping Off Binky is a lot of fun!

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  15. Hello, Shaen. Very nice to meet you, and your MIL is the BEST!

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    1. Thank you, John, and I wholeheartedly agree!

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    2. Thanks, John. You'll always be one of my very favorite writers...and human beings. ;)

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  16. Shaen and Nancy! What a great interview - such wisdom! I look forward to seeing where the Lord takes you and your lovely family. I have loved reading ALL of your books Nancy so I look forward to reading the books you both write together. When time allows, have either of you thought about doing a facebook live event or conference together? Love you Nancy and enjoyed getting to know Shaen more. You both are a blessing!!

    Vickie Monnier

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    1. Thank you, Vickie! The Facebook event sounds interesting, but I’ll leave that up to Nancy- she has more deadlines than I do :)

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    2. Hi, Vickie. Your idea about a FB event is a good one. We'll see what we can do. Loved seeing you in Wichita. Love you and miss you. Hugs.

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  17. Wow, you are one busy woman! I totally get the being surrounded by books part. I also have to have my book fix.

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    1. What would we do without glorious words? Did you read the interview last week with Roseanna White? She put it well- “A life not surrounded by books just doesn’t bear thinking about.”

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  18. Nice to keep it in the family!!! LOL Getting published is a big step - the rejections are a killer. Glad to know you'll both benefit

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! I’ve written for a while, but I’ve never collaborated on a project, so this new challenge will be exciting :)

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  19. Love this so much! What talent in this family!

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    1. Thank you, Kathleen! My family is a blessing to me, for sure :)

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  20. "I realized, hey, if I want to make this writing dream happen, I have to create some time for it." This puts you a step ahead of other dreamers and launches you to the doers team. Congrats, and blessings on your new ventures!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kim! Happy to be on the doers team :)

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  21. Waiting to read Shaen's books! I'd love to win Dark Deception. florencebarkman(at)gmail.com

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Florence! Dark Deception is a thrill ride!

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  22. It is so cool that you and your daughter-in-law share two loves -- writing and your son! I would be interested in Unbreakable. Thanks for sharing this talented lady with us -- since one of her first novel was historical, is that what she prefers to write? Those just happen to be my favorite (add suspense and I'm locked in my chair until I've finished reading). susan.stitch(at)sbcglobal.net

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    1. Hi, Susan! Yes, it’s great to have so much in common with Nancy. We usually can’t stop talking when we get together :)

      And I am interested in historical (and have a few plot ideas on the back burner for the future), though my ones in draft form right now are contemporary romance and young adult spec fic). I have a LONG list of historicals on my desk waiting to be read, too :) A very enjoyable genre.

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