Shannon: Thank you, Ana, for the invite to interview.
Me: So, after this epic introduction, let me take a deep breath and start from scratch:
Where were you born?
Shannon: I was born in New Mexico, but can’t call it the town I grew up in. I was a military brat. I traveled all over the United States.
Me: How was your childhood and which kind of education did you have and what studies did you take?
Shannon: My childhood wasn’t typical. Well… not typical for a Mormon in Utah. My parents were different. I had an outspoken mother of German descent and a father that was… well unique. He dabbled in all kinds of religions, one was Shamanism. While other LDS teens had fathers with short missionary style haircuts, my father had a long ponytail that often had an Indian feather dangling from it. Then you have my brother that has a cutting wit, who guarded an opal mine in the middle of nowhere for years as a natural born survivalist. Grandma was a psychic and Sunday mornings were filled with the scent of burning sage and meditation followed by my family’s hilariously sarcastic recaps about what they learned at church, work or school that week. I grew up used to non-traditional family life. I think our uniqueness got us used to critics and because of that each of us grew up without a filter, except dad. He rarely spoke. I got in trouble a lot for not holding back my funny commentaries. Sarcastic wit was a second language in my household. I learned early on that I was being raised to feel different—and I was taught that blending wasn’t supposed to be a goal.
As far as studies, well I did go to college and got a degree in Physical Therapy and Marketing. Medicine is a passion for me, but it is only second to philosophy and writing. However, lately funny graphic design pictures have been my hobby. I am always doing fun photos for family and friends. I always wanted to do the cover of romance novels.
Me: How do you come up with so many great quotes?
Shannon: There used to be a popular television show in the 1970s called Kung Fu with David Carradine. He plays the Shaolin peace-loving monk, Kwai Chang Caine in the show. Caine would travel all around the world and always have these flashbacks of the Shaolin priest that taught him his wisdom. My father was that kind of guy. He constantly spoke to me in parables, dervishes, and Zen quotes and followed it up with some story of wisdom. Other than that, he rarely spoke to me in any normal fashion. He always taught be not to be closeminded by religion or life. He would say, “Everyone has a bit of the truth and you have to stop and listen. Learn the lesson, because there are no coincidences.” While other teens got necklaces or clothes for Christmas, I got medicine pouches filled with crystals from my Dad or books on wisdom. That was his legacy to me—observe, listen, learn and share.
Me: Oh, that´s so magnificent. Having a family to support you no matter what, such a great way to raise a child. So your father was a big influence on you. I´m sure he is still whispering some words on your ears, in a Zen way, helping you with your quotes. And that brings me to my next question: When did you start writing them?
Shannon: I started writing my quotes when I was a teenager in a creative writing class I took in high school, along with a boat load of poetry. I often write poetry to help me deal with the struggles in my life. I find it therapeutic. However, the 1,050 quotes floating on the internet and in various published books happened three years ago.
Me: What made you write a book such as 300 Questions to Ask Your Parents Before It's Too Late?
Shannon: Ha Ha. Didn’t really even have any plans to write that book. My publisher asked me to. However, my father had a heart attack one month before I was asked to write it and as I have mentioned: There are no coincidences.
Me: Is there any secret you would like to share with your audience now that you were never telling anyone before?
Shannon: I don’t post pictures of my children online. I don’t think anyone ever should post them openly on Facebook or anywhere else on the internet. I get some slack for that because people think I am all about me when I post. However, that is my private life and they are my pride and joy worth protecting. I was sexually abused when I was only six years old by a neighborhood teenager. Maybe, that is why I am so cautious. I am now an advocate for children that are sexually abused. I had dinner with Darren Fletcher, the director of the movie The Abolitionist. It is an important movie about Sex Trafficking of young children. Darren and I know that the more people view it and support their cause the more we can rescue these children. Children as young as 10 years old are being sold in human trafficking. Please watch the film with your church group. It comes out in movie theatres on April 1st. Here is their foundation I support "O.U.R." (Operation Underground Railroad) and the movie’s webpage: The Abolitionists
Me: How about your charity work, and your plans to help with Worldwide Child Relief Foundation?
Shannon: I return to Nicaragua with Worldwide Child Relief Foundation in December. The foundation has built a community center in a very poor area near Leon. I will continue to do medical check-ins with the children I visited this last December. However, this winter I will be teaching a week long class on grief recovery, plus doing physical therapy with the elderly. The goal of Worldwide Child Relief Foundation is to teach the community to be self-sufficient. So many organizations give to the poor and enable them to rely on handouts. Worldwide Child Relief Foundation is all about teaching people skills so they can overcome poverty. I agree with this philosophy. Education and training others gives people a way out of their situation. It empowers them! Next year, I hope to do a Christian mission to India, but for now I am will continue to return to Mexico and do my annual mission with a church in Arizona that I visit from time to time. I am learning Spanish.
Me: Being able to add in the action, including a documentary I made called Twelve Dolphins (see the trailer The Power of WE) going on against sea mammals captivity for our own amusement in entertainment parks and seeing positive results last year, I am even more fueled with the perspective that we together can change the world. I see that you also love the sea, you had your share with pirates and whales and then had some battles and other fights against their capture. How has it been so far? Do you see any positive change or good perspectives towards this serious issue?
Shannon: Yes, last year I was part of Operation Jairo which was a Sea Shepherd Campaign to save the Sea Turtles on the Florida coast and in Honduras. I chose Florida and was amazed at the problem we have created as a culture. I think the problem can’t be changed until more of these larger and more well-known organizations seek out and recruit more people to bring the issue into churches. Let me explain. I have been a part of several animal rights organizations and noticed that more nontraditional faiths dominate that culture, rather than Christianity. I think that the problem we face with our earth, oceans and animals won’t be radically changed, until it becomes a faith based lesson in churches. Very few lessons are given on the topic of being “stewards” over our animal or on chapter about Noah. It seems like a minority topic, but could be a huge topic if people would step up to the plate and cleverly craft a sermon or church campaign to sprinkle the religious importance into these topics of saving animals and our environment. Why not give a sermon one Sunday about the importance of our Earth and then follow it up with a large Christian mission to clean up the beaches one weekend or a fund raising drive to send people to the Florida Coast to help out with the Sea Turtles? Christianity is full of people that want to make a difference—pastors, bishops, popes and the like need to delegate direction. We are falling short because the people that do care about things like this are not taking it a step further to tell others not about the problem, but how to solve it. Here is a film I created that captures the beauty of our world. I created it before I left for my Sea Shepherd Campaign.
Take Care of Our Beautiful World!
Me: What a wonderful world! That reminds me of a film I made two years ago based upon my book Out Of The Blue about the real threat of damaging our mineral springs, the source of life for all in this beautiful blue planet. Here is a glimpse of the movie/documentary:
Me: What do your fans/followers and readers can expect from your new site Staying Positive University (which will be launched on May 2016)
Shannon: Actually, it is launching in November in preparation for the January 2017 semester. I will start ad campaigns in June and in March an email signup sheet for future classes and newsletters. Currently, the Facebook site is up and running- And I need lots of likes and followers so please visit it: The Philosophy of Shannon L. Alder
Staying Positive University (stayingpositiveu.com) came about from watching a few competitors online. They posted positive quotes that didn’t give direction for people. They offered a short positive message, but didn’t offer much else. One positive webpage started listing my quotes and ended up on the New York Times Best Seller list. I figure I contributed to that, so if he can reach a million viewers with his use of my quotes and others… well then so can I. However, I plan to use my followers to combat some social problems in the world like mental bias, animal cruelty, human trafficking, etc. All of which these two other large online sites don’t do. Why be positive if you can’t use it to make a difference, right?
Change doesn’t come from being positive only. You can’t say, “Hey, you can get over that guy you love if you just stay positive.” That is not exactly how it works, folks. So, I am going to take my quotes a step further and discuss the issues that women and men face that keeps them from fulfilling their dreams. It will be free online classes with a printable certificate at the end if you do your homework.:) I have been on my own journey and have learned quite a bit. However, don’t just expect my wisdom only, I plan to have quest speakers and videos…all things a teacher would have in their classroom. Later on classes will have ebooks and journals you can purchase.
Two classes will run each semester. There will be online quizzes and class polls, plus a bookstore. You will get to chat online in forums or reply to each day’s lessons in the classroom area. The classes follow all the days off like any university would. There will be spring and summer break. During the summer there will be cool projects and hopefully in a few years a trip annually to foreign missions after I grow my community. It is a community in the creation process.
Me: It´s a WIP (Work In Progress) as we say. Aren´t we all? Thank you so much, Shannon, for bringing so much wisdom to this world.
C.F.: I´m always up to interviews, etc.
Me: And I´m glad you join me in this adventure. This is my third interview and I´m having so much fun elaborating the questions for each and every author and/or artist who comes to join me in this venture.
C.F.: Here you go.
Me: Looking through your profile I see that you've got plenty of awards. How does that sound in your ear, to have that feeling of satisfaction, and to be laureate with so many accomplishments? I am so jealous of you now.
C.F.: No one was more surprised than myself when I won last year. The contest entries were made more for the experience than any expectation of winning. When both books won it was surreal. I think the feeling is just validation. My friends tell me they like the work, but until someone outside of your circle validates that opinion, it isn’t real.
Me: It looks like a dream coming true. I was quaterfinalist once on Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. I´ve got a review from one of the jury there, but I did not win an award for it; so I couldn´t validate that experience until I saw how hard that is to get there.
C.F.: By the way, I always wondered how Authors got the nerve to put “Award Winning Author” in front of their name. Now I know.
Me: It was after suffering a near-death experience that you decided to write a novel. Tell me more about it.
C.F.: Spent a month in Egypt back in 2007 and on the way back over the Atlantic the plane hit “wind shear” and took three parabolic drops. People were bouncing off the ceiling and having drink carts dropped on them. An absolutely terrifying experience. I took out an exit sign on one of my bounces off the ceiling and brought it home after. It hangs over my bathroom mirror as a reminder to value and enjoy every day.
Me: And do you still travel by plane or that nearly crash caused you to avoid airlines completely?
C.F.: After the incident I flew quite a bit assuming the odds it would happen again was slim. I fly only when necessary now. I have a lot of anxiety about it.
Me: How do you research? Do you travel to places, or are you a "library rat"? By the way, being a sci-fi author myself, I do both. Isn't that the best excuse to go visit libraries around the world?
C.F.: I spend weeks just surfing topics and watching documentaries on possible subjects. As a rule, there’s a month of full time research invested in each novel. I’m a little agoraphobic and don’t leave the house much, thus no libraries.
Me: As a hurricane shutter engineer and living in the east coast have you ever had to face a real hurricane? And I am not talking about a storm, but THE perfect tempest ever?
C.F.: In 2004 before Hurricane Charley arrived I hopped a flight back to Michigan two weeks before it hit. There have been some storms, but never anything dangerous. I must not be too fearful as I live right on the water now.
C.F.: Palindrome was the file name on WORD FILE in the first draft. There were five or six drafts and the number (656) was just the file numbers. In that treatment for the book all the towns and some people’s names were palindromes (ie: ANNA, HANNAH or EVE) that fit into a plot line puzzle. For the most part none of that puzzle made it into the final cut. When it was later picked up by my publisher and re-edited I recommended a name change, but they liked Palindrome. Go Figure?
Me: I love the covers of your books. Can you please tell how was the creative process to decide which cover you would use?
C.F.: It’s a steep learning curve. For all the time I spend writing a book, the reality is a good cover can be the difference between selling and not. I just try to get the best art I can find and go from there. A good cover or book trailer can be a huge benefit. I recommend all authors do Book Trailers if only for the experience.
Me: I know this question will be hard for any writer to answer, but I have to ask you anyway: Which book do you feel the fondest of? Not necessarily the best ever written, but one that took you some time to overcome the fact that you have finished it and then felt a kind of near-death experience from it.
C.F.: I am always in love with the last thing published. With only five, going on six, published books each one is an evolutionary step. Anything written more than a year ago I wince when reading it.
My favorite is SOUTH FACE. The research was so involved that it sticks with me.
C.F.: Oddly FREE DIVE (the 3rd book I wrote) is far and away the pick of everyone I know. It’s flawed in so many ways, but readers love it. I had to cut the book some slack after it won a Readers Favorite Award last year. Standing on a stage and getting handed something has a drastic effect on your attitude.
Me: And you must be very proud of your achievements. The validations that you get along the way just prove that your works are worth every award they receive. Much appreciated you having the time well spent chatting with me. Hope to see you in many more adventures.
C.F. Waller Amazon Page
Me: What's your real name or if you only use a pen name, what is it?
J.S.: My pen name is J.S. Danielle.
Me: I see, The initials J.S. sound pretty fantastic and there is great mystique attached to that. You use just a pen name so that would you find it any easier to write and express your feelings? Or it is just the same as when you are using your real name?
J.S.: I am one in the same. Initially it was about who I would be representing when I released my novels, more so than myself as an individual. However I felt, my family supports me.
Me: That's so great! I see that you write erotica. Is that the only genre you write or you are willing to try new venues?
J.S.: I would try new venues, if another one came to me as naturally as erotica does. My novels, albeit mostly erotic, involve varying spectrums of the different venues.
Me: Why and when did you decide to write erotica and/or romance books?
J.S.: Why? It's what comes naturally to me. I am a sexually-charged female in her 40s! I decided around 2007, after my divorce to write shorts about all the things I was missing from my marriage and put them into my active, sexless imagination.
Me: You did it so well. And that brings me to my next question: Is there something that you regret of not doing? And if so, what would that be?
J.S.: I regret not starting to write sooner.
Me: What a perfect answer. But now you are more mature to stir up your creative juice in just the right temperature. Just looking at your book covers I can feel the heat. That just gave me the chills down my spine..
Me: Do you put yourself on your writing? I mean, literally, your life passing through like a movie as you write your novels?
J.S.:(Not shyly smiling) Yes. I do.
Me: You've got these two novels already for your series. Do you have any plans to keep the pace and write a couple of more, or are you giving up and changing to other ideas?
J.S.: I have ideas for several (at least three more) in this current series and a branch off for another series.
Me: And last but not least, if you could only say one word about your writing style what would that be?
Me: And I wouldn't think of any better word to describe you.
Thanks so much for chatting with me and giving me the opportunity to highlight your work.
Ah, and just one more thing before you go: "Just Simply" Keep Shinning!
J.S. Danielle on Facebook, Twitter, Website, Blog.