Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shannon Taylor Vannatter's Clash

We at Clash of the Titles love to share quality Christian fiction with our readers, and we've been encouraged by the positive response we've received. Last year far exceeded our expectation. When we launched back in October, we had no idea what to expect, but thanks to great authors like Shannon Taylor Vannatter and Susanne Lakin, writing as CS Lakin, our first week was a hit.

Shannon and Susanne might have competed in one of our most difficult clashes yet: Best Opening Hook. I’ve heard it said, if you can’t grab your reader by the first page, you’ve lost them. I hate to admit it, but I have to agree. I’ve perused numerous bookshelves, grabbing one book after another, skimming the first five hundred or so words, (if that) only to put them back. But Shannon’s excerpt captured our attention, and our…thump, thump, thump…hearts, from the first paragraph! An overbearing mother, a ruggedly handsome hero and a heroine with almost as much emotional baggage as I have—what’s not to love!

See if you don’t agree. Here’s the first few paragraphs of White Doves, book two of her White Rose Trilogy:

“The post office door opened and Laken closed her eyes, waiting to hear Mother’s accusing tone. A whoosh of June’s humidity blasted her with its hot, steamy breath. Nibbling on the inside of her lip until she tasted blood, she realized it was the employee door..

“Welcome to Love Station,” a male voice said from behind her. “Hope you like weddings. I’ve got a whole passel of invitations.”

Laken turned around. A man swung an overstuffed mail sack from his broad shoulder. Tanned calf muscles rippled beneath knee-length khaki shorts as he bent to scoop up a stray Post-it. He turned to face her. Laugh lines crinkled the corners of olive eyes.

“You must be the new postmaster.” He wore a day’s growth of beard, the kind that made a woman want to rub her cheek against it. A wind-blown coffee-colored lock dipped low over one eyebrow. He brushed away the stray wave and pressed the back of his wrist against the perspiration beading his forehead.

Until that moment, he looked like he’d stepped out of one of those cheesy soap operas, where perfect male specimens serve up a daily dish of melodrama. But romantic heroes don’t sweat—even in Romance, Arkansas’s sticky heat.”

So what makes this opening so great? According to Shannon, great openings introduce great characters.

"I like books with characters that make me root for them,” Shannon says. “A feminine, but tough heroine and a yummy hero. I like books where there is constantly something happening. I think, I'll read this chapter and I'm going to bed, but then that chapter ends with a hook and I have to read the next chapter, and the next.”

Well, Shannon, you nailed it with this novel!

And yet, I have to ask, can anything good come out of Romance, Arkansas? Lakin left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her parents, the town drunk and the local gossip maven?

Hayden Winters has his hands full raising his paraplegic nephew, Brady, and wrestling his guilt over having caused the child’s injury. When the boy’s father, Laken’s brother, turns up and starts talking custody, Laken’s influence is Hayden’s only hope. But whose side is she really on?

Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/inspirational romance writer. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their eight-year-old son, and their church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, a dragonfish, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch. She loves high-heel shoes and thinks all clothing should feature sequins, rhinestones, and lace.

Find out more about Shannon and her debut series, at and join us next week as we meet her COTT sparring partner, Susanne Lakin, writing as CS Lakin, author of Someone To Blame.

You can purchase White Doves from Amazon.

Shannon is giving away a copy of White Doves. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so the first page DID grab me on this one. I'd love to win a copy.

djragno at hotmail dot com

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hey Anonymous,

I'm glad I grabbed you. You made my day.

Marianne said...

Thanks, Shannon. Not all books grab me like this from the first page. Great job. Would like to win it!

Anonymous said...

Oh Shannon, I love a book where I can see whats happening in my mind! You did just that :-)

Jackie S. said...

I would love to read Shannon's book; read one of her books and loved sure this will be just as great! Thanks!!!

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Ooh Marianne,
I grabbed you too. Awesome!

That's a great compliment. Writers work so hard to create pictures with words. Glad to know it worked.

Hi Jackie,
Thanks for the compliment. Y'all might give me the big head.

jjjjhibdon said...

I loved the beginning! It did grab me. Having worked for the post office, the story was relevant to me, also. Sounds like a good read. Would love to win it!

Maureen said...

I would love to have this book. I really enjoyed White Roses!


Anonymous said...

it grabed me would love to win it.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great read!

Mary / Touch of Heaven said...

This looks like a great book! atouchofheaven2010(at)gmail(dot)com
Mary B

Anonymous said...

You definitely grabbed my attention with the introduction of Laken and Hayden. Whose side IS Laken on????

Nancy C.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hi Jennifer,
The post office setting was fun. I had a lot of fun working PO lingo and references into the story, like Priority male and Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours.

Thanks for the compliment. I love hearing that you liked White Roses.

Grabbed another. I'm loving all this grabbing.

Thanks for the compliment.

Mary B,
I'm so glad you think so.

Sorry, I'm not telling. You'll have to read the book.

Meredith said...

I love that Shannon worked office lingo into the story!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

Hi Meredith,

I try to work office lingo in with every book according to character occupations, but this was especially fun.

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