Long ago, I wrote a book based on a dream after I attended a Michael Bolton concert. But for the book, the hero was a bad boy rock star with long dark hair and he had a stalker. After eight rejections—I realized my true calling was romance, not suspense.
Years later, after I finally got published and Harlequin bought my line, I had the opportunity to continue my Texas rodeo series. Desperate for ideas, I dug through all my old manuscripts. Hmm, I could get rid of the stalker and change that rock star into a country star. My editor liked the concept and all was grand as I wrote book four and five in the series.
But when it came time to write Rodeo Song—I couldn’t get that rocker who’d lived in my head for thirteen years to morph into a country singer.
This is what Garrett Steele the rocker looked like.
Can you say yummy? Can you see him as a country star? I couldn’t either.
Whenever I have a writing problem, I’ve found the best cure is other writers. So when I heard about a writing retreat with my local ACFW Arkansas group, I jumped at the chance. A day and evening spent with my writer friends as we brainstormed my long-haired cowboy and googled long-haired cowboys jump-started my brain.
Yes, we joked about how we were at a church camp for a Christian writers retreat googling men. But it fixed my book.
Garrett Steele spent two years in Nashville trying to get his big break. This is what his hair looked like in the beginning. This is the same model when he was younger.
Midway through that time, he was really broke and couldn’t even afford a haircut. As his hair grew, it curled less. He always hated his curl, so he kept it that way. When an agent finally discovered him, she liked his hair, thought he would be a fresh image for country music and marketed him as a sex symbol.
Tada. Garrett Steele got to stay the way he looked in my head, but I had a plausible reason for him not looking like the typical country star. As the book progresses, he gets a haircut by a hairdresser experienced with curly hair and ends up looking like this.
Different model, but still yummy. And since I used to be a hairdresser, I know that some curl can be tamed by growth or the cut. Then I gave him these eyes.
Yeah, writing Christian romance is a lot of fun. I dedicated this book to my husband for not minding if I dream about cowboys all day.
Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife/award winning author. She lives in rural central Arkansas in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Shannon writes inspirational contemporary romance and it took her nine years to get published in the traditional market.
Shannon hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as her characters struggle with real-life issues. Their journeys, from ordinary lives to extraordinary romance through Christ-centered relationships, demonstrate that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and doing craft projects.