Rad-Reader:  When did you write this Christmas story?  What month?

Shelli:  It took many months to write! I’m a lot slower with a threenager at home with me. I started it in the spring I believe. 

Rad-Reader:  Do you find it difficult to write a holiday theme book or just a challenge?

Shelli:  Omgosh it was so fun. I love Christmas and so it was fun to get into the holiday mood outside of the holiday season.

Rad-Reader:  So, the opening scene when Rosa & Calvin meet did you come up with that scene with the chips or did you see something like that happen?

Shelli:  I came up with it. Honestly, I’ve probably been tempted to do it before ;)  

Rad-Reader:  Was Rosa & her father, people you made up or were they based on people you know or parts of those you know?

Shelli:  They were made up. I did get inspired to write a Latina heroine because one of my closest friends is Honduran. 

Rad-Reader:  With Calvin’s character did you have an idea about him first and then wrote it or did you just write to see how the character would end up?

Shelli:  I’ve been building Cal up for a couple of books now. He’s an imperfect hero and has definitely made some mistakes in life. I love writing a flawed hero because they’re definitely more realistic. But with all my books/characters, they often reveal more of themselves and storylines as I write.

Rad-Reader:  Did you always have Rosa working for Nancy in the insurance office from your original draft or was that something you added?

Shelli:  I always had her as an insurance agent. Once again I used a friend for inspiration. Small town jobs come in every shape and form, and my friend is in a smallish town working as one. I definitely hit her up for information!

Rad-Reader:  Was it difficult to write Hank’s character?

Shelli:  Hank was somewhat a challenge at times because he is also flawed. And cranky as heck sometimes! And I had to make sure he was redeemable and had good qualities too.

Rad-Reader:  When Rosa’s friend Emma is talking to her about being with a boring man who does things like a –  bowling league and bingo was that something that just came to you at those times when you were writing?

Shelli:  Really, I was just thinking how while it, can it, become boring and mundane to someone who’s been married for a while, it can sound like heaven to someone who wants that kind of relationship and routine.

Rad-Reader:  Do you use an outline when you write or do you just sit down and start to write?

Shelli:  I’m a total pantser. I maybe have a back cover blurb type idea in my head, and then go for it.

Rad-Reader:  Which is more difficult to write a character you had from a previous book that becomes a major character or a new character?

Shelli:  Possibly a new character. I’ve already done some of the work on a reappearing character. Though when I use a reappearing character, I do have to go back and double check all their info (did I say he had blue eyes, or brown type thing) So yeah, maybe that is a challenge too! 

Rad-Reader:  Hank’s character was a surprise at different moments in the story was that your intentions when you started or did it just happen that way?

Shelli:  Hank was definitely a character who revealed himself slowly to me. I didn’t know who he was, what his full backstory was, or his end goal was until I started writing.  

Rad-Reader:  I read your McLaughlin’s series and with this one about (Marshall Ranch) do you enjoy writing about families?

Shelli:  Yes! Absolutely love writing about families. It’s just so fun to show them in the sibling dynamic (or cousins), and get to know them throughout the books. And become eager to write their own happily ever after.

Rad-Reader:  What makes you decide to make a story into a series?

Shelli:  Honestly I used to write a lot of stand-alone, but then I realized series sell better. And I always end up with a character in a book who demands their own story. Which, has gotten me in trouble. There’s still a few books I need to write someday to tie up old stories. 

Rad-Reader:  When you set out to write a story, all of the extra characters (example: Emma & Nancy), were they a part of your original draft or did you add as you went along?

Shelli:  I added them in as I went along. I like to show my character’s lives outside of just the hero and heroine. They have jobs. They have best friends. I love to show brief moments of that part of their life.

Rad-Reader:  Are you able to pick the story you want to do or are you under a contract with a publishing company that picks?

Shelli:  I’m pretty lucky with Tule Publishing and they pretty much let me write what I want. Though Jane Porter was the one who first encouraged me to write a cowboy romance (for their rodeo series). I was nervous because I’d never written cowboys. I’m such a city girl! But I ended up loving it and wrote the Marshall Ranch series. Earlier on in my career, I had an editor pushing me to write really hot stories that I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about. But at this point in my career, I tend to stick to/with what I’m comfortable with and work with a publisher who will back me up on that.

Rad-Reader:  Was Rosa based on someone you know or did you come up with her on your own?

Shelli:  I came up with her on my own. 

Rad-Reader:  I really liked that character because she reminds me of my daughter the only difference is my wife is Hispanic and I am Italian.  How do you come up with the strong women you write in your books?

Shelli:  Thank you for sharing that! That’s so cool, and such a compliment. Your daughter must be awesome! I love writing strong women. Women who know what they want and stick to it. Who have goals in life and go for them. 
Rad-Reader:  Thanks, she is.

Rad-Reader:  Do you remember your first royalty check and if you did anything special for yourself?

Shelli:  Oh, it was tiny! My first book was a short story at a tiny e-publisher. But I was just so thrilled to actually be getting paid for writing. No idea what I spent it on! Probably coffee from Starbucks :D 
Rad-Reader: Hey, it counted because look where you are now.  Congrats!

Rad-Reader:  What was it like for you the first time you went to try and get your book published?

Shelli:  I started out seeking to be traditionally published originally. Submitting to agents and big NY publishers. When that didn’t take off right away, I decided to publish with a small e-publisher. I thought my books were good, and I was dismay by the ‘unsold books under your bed’ all these established authors talked about. I wanted my books out there, published, and available for anyone who wanted to read them. So I submitted to a small e-publisher (before e-publishing was big), and built a career slowly that way. And even hit the NYT extended list with one of my ebooks. Eventually, I obtained an agent and a traditional NY publisher, but neither ended up being what I wanted at the time. So I left my agent and work with publishers who are super author-friendly. I even dabble in self-publishing now and then. I may seek out traditional big NY pubs again or an agent, but right now it’s not on my radar. 

Rad-Reader:  Did you do the whole agent thing or did you just send in the book to someone?

Shelli:  Both. I submitted to publishers and agents. I ended up with an agent when I already had a deal in hand. Though she’d already been considering signing me on anyway. 

Rad-Reader:  What do you like during your free time?

Shelli:  I love getting outside. And I’m always taking pictures. For as much of a city girl I am, I also love getting away from it. Maybe even more than being in it lately. The beach. The woods. The mountains. I love it all. I also love a good Girls Night Out when the stars align. And baths. I love baths, especially because I do most of my reading there.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite genre of movie, music, and books?

Shelli:  Movies, hmm. I love a good comedy. Or romantic comedy—though those have become harder to come by. Action/suspense are good too.

Music, I love it all! I really do. I can flip stations and always find something I like. From AC/DC to Alison Krauss to Ella Fitzgerald. 

Books. I love historical romances. Especially the medieval time period. I tend to not read as much contemporary. Maybe because I don’t want to feel like I’m being influenced by another author’s voice. 

Rad-Reader:  Who is the one person from past history you would love to interview if you could?

Shelli:  My second great-grandmother, who is full blooded native American. I want to hear the story of how she ended up with my second great-grandfather (a Jewish man). And what times were like back then for the Pacific Northwest Native American Tribes, and being in an interracial relationship in the 1800s. 

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Shelli:  I have a series re-releasing from Tule Publishing. It was my Holding Out for a Hero series, which is being rebranded and re-released. I’m also working on my Bro Code series, which will be self-published. Book 1, Lady’s First, will be out by spring!  

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links

Shelli:  You can find all my books and the links to buy at various retailers on the books page of my website!  https://shellistevens.com/books/

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?  Links

Shelli:  You can find me around the web at the following places

We cannot thank you enough for taking the time to be with us.  We know how valuable our authors time can be to gather all this info and then to answer all our questions.  Please let us know when your next book drops so that we can add it to our Shout Out: An Author's Place page so that our readers have a heads up.
Thanks again,
Pat & Char

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