I was fortunate enough to meet Shelley at an RWA event in Arizona, and at a few subsequent writing conferences where she conducted workshops. Not only is she a great speaker, but her writing is fantastic. Her latest novel, THE BURIED, is the second in The Apostles series and available now (and it’s also a contender for best Romantic Suspense of 2014 by RT Book Reviews!):

Secrets from the past.
Voices from the grave.
Because nothing stays buried forever…

Cypress Bend, Florida, is a small southern bayou town filled with long-buried secrets. It’s also the home of successful, fiercely independent state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche, who’s pulled into a world of terror and self-doubt when she receives a phone call from a young woman buried alive.

In a race to stop a revenge-seeking killer, Grace unearths skeletons from her past along with feelings for the one man she swore she’d never need again, Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher, a rootless, smooth-talking FBI crisis negotiator who’s back in Cypress Bend to deal with a secret of his own.

Here are Shelley’s answers to some questions:

According to your website bio, you used to write restaurant reviews. How did this segue into writing fiction, and can you tell us more about your path toward publication?
SHELL: A woefully practical writer, I knew that it was hard to make a living as a fiction writer, so I worked as a journalist for more than twenty years. My first job: covering high school sports at age sixteen for my local paper where I got paid $2 an inch. Since then I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, speechwriter, and when my kids came along, I picked up freelance work, including a cushy assignment as a restaurant reviewer for a national on-line entertainment guide.
And while I was paying my mortgage with non-fiction work, I’d spend early mornings and weekends writing fiction. It took me five manuscripts and five years before I got my first New York offer. There’s nothing sexy about my journey: Write. Edit. Repeat. (And show gratitude along the way!)
Gratitude is definitely important! 
THE BURIED has a great villain called The Gravedigger. How did the character come to you, and what suggestions do you have for making villains memorable? 
SHELL: As a child I had reoccurring nightmares about being buried alive. Horrible, huh? Makes a soul long for those anxiety dreams about forgetting your locker combination or showing up to work in your underwear. Writing THE BURIED and creating the Gravedigger was an exploration of one of my deepest terrors. But by tacking the fear through story, I controlled the terror and guaranteed myself happily ever after.
As for what makes a villain memorable, three things. The best villains are passionate and willing to die for their causes, 2) have some redeeming qualities that allow us to relate to them, and 3) are smart enough, strong enough, and motivated enough to battle our heroes and heroines.

It’s great when we can confront fears through writing. And I loved the voice in your YA book, WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE. What do you like most about writing YA, and how does it differ from crafting Romantic Suspense?
SHELL: All of my books feature relatively strong, independent women not afraid to speak their minds and live their truths, regardless of age. In YA, I love the raw truth and hope that defines the genre. Interestingly enough, crafting YA and romantic suspense is the same process. One character. One life-changing moment. One transformational journey.

So true! In your “Dream, Dare, Do” workshop, you offer some excellent tips on how to create an effective business plan. In your experience, what are the key advantages to having a business plan?  
SHELL: Crafting a business plan makes most of us better business owners. It forces us to think ahead, set goals, determine strategies, anticipate challenges, and define opportunities. Ultimately, business plans keep us on course and on fire about our writing. Here’s a simple business planning template for your readers.
Thanks for having me, Karen! Joy & Peace to you and your readers! 
And thank you, Shelley, especially for including the business plan template!

To grab THE BURIED for yourself, and its predecessor, THE BROKEN, click the links below:


And click here to get WELCOME CALLER, THIS IS CHLOE:


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