Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writers' Wednesday Features Shellie Foltz

I’m happy to welcome Shellie Foltz. I met Shellie a few months ago when she spoke to our local writers group, Ozarks Romance Authors, and she graciously agreed to drop by Writers’ Wednesday.

Hi Shellie. Glad you're here today. Your books NO PENALTY FOR LOVE and LOVE UNDER A DARK SKY are both romantic comedies. What draws you to this genre?

I like writing contemporary romantic comedies because I enjoy reading and watching them myself. I am so blessed in my marriage to Bruce. We often say we are a romantic comedy. I spent much of my life being a very serious and worried person and, though I still care very deeply about people and about important issues, I have also learned that there is a time to lighten up and have fun. I learned that from Bruce and I’m very grateful. It’s a change in perspective that has made my life much better!

Your personal hero sounds terrific. Please tell us a little about your work.

NO PENALTY FOR LOVE is set in St. Louis and the romance centers on Patricia, a high school English teacher (I spent ten years teaching high school English) and a Josh Northshore, a professional hockey player whose younger brother is her student. I really enjoyed writing the hockey scenes in this one as much as I did the romantic ones. I wrote NO PENALTY during the summer months when I was really missing hockey season. It was a good distraction for me. I had a lot of fun writing it. I submitted to Avalon. It was about three months later that Chelsea Gilmore (then an Avalon editor) phoned to say they’d like to publish it. After the shock wore off, I was really inspired to get going on another.

LOVE UNDER A DARK SKY was also published by Avalon. While Chelsea was the one to request the manuscript, she made the move to Maria Carvainis Agency as a literary agent before Avalon contracted with me. This novel became Lia Brown’s first acquisition with Avalon. Dark Sky is set in Minnesota. My husband and I vacation there every summer and I find it so beautiful and inspiring. I wondered if I could adequately communicate what I felt about that area in writing, so I challenged myself. I think I did a fair job.

(excerpt from LOVE FROM A DARK SKY)

I’d neglected much of what makes Minnesota beautiful over the past few months and so had failed to nourish my soul properly. It was early enough that a wispy fog still hung over the harbor. A ship, the Edgar L. Massey, was docked and quietly awaiting departure. Out on the breakwater, two fishermen cast lines which got lost from view in the shimmer of water. A sprinkling of loons bobbed and dove, competing with each other and the fishermen for the catch of the day.

Here the deer, and there was an abundance, were relatively tame. Used to the continual parade of people coming to stay at the B&B up on the hill or walk the paths and breakwater for exercise or watch the ships as they arrived in the harbor, the herd simply paused in its grazing to watch me with soulful eyes as I passed.
In and out of an inconsistent fog, I wound my way up the popular path and to a place I remembered where one could circle back toward the large, public parking lot and the docks or climb down an irregular stairway of stone to a less-worn trail leading deeper into the woods.

Lake Superior was within sight the full distance and I stopped a few times along the way to walk out onto the rocky shore and take it in. The word majestic was not comprehensive enough to capture the essence of the lake. I’d once read how many ships had sunk to its depths and had heard the ghost stories as varied in their details as those who repeated the tales. The incredible depth of it was unimaginable to me.

The horizon was a thin blue line, barely distinguishable, and when a ship appeared along it the effect was of magic, as if a conjurer had spoken it into existence suddenly and for a long time, watching it trail along the horizon, one couldn’t be sure if it was truly there or simply a figment of the imagination, something created by the mind to lend an element of sense and stability to the incomprehensible vastness of the view. Sometimes, afraid of losing my balance if I stared into it too long, and with the hush of the woods all around me, I would plant my feet more firmly on the rock or say something very softly just to make sure I was still there, that I hadn’t fallen away into someone else’s dream and become lost.

# # #
DARK SKY is the story of Willa, an unemployed woman in her upper-thirties who has had to give up her organic oats business. She meets Daniel who is a university professor and science fiction writer. Oh, did I mention he’s quite a bit younger? Besides the beauty of the Northshore, I also took some inspiration from my quirky obsession with Dr. Who in writing this one. I am very proud of it. I think I grew in my writing from NO PENALTY.

Both of them are terrific stories. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing stories since fourth grade (so, since 1977). My first published / paid work was a play, Welcome to Joe’s, which was reprised at the beginning of the current theatre season. Next came Related Spaces, another play. Both of these were performed and subsequently published by Stained Glass Theatre in Ozark, Missouri. The novels came a few years later.

Stories, plays, novels--rather different genres. Do you have a special place in which you create?

It depends on what I’m writing. If it’s a play or a story set in a lively environment (Joe’s and No Penalty), I like to take my laptop to Mudhouse. I like the energy of the setting. And the coffee. If I’m working on something I consider very personal or which causes me to be a bit contemplative in the process (Related Spaces, Dark Sky, and my current project) I like my own living room. I prop up on the couch with my dog and a cup of coffee and let phone calls go to voice mail. No music. Just quiet.

I identify with your love for peace and quiet when writing. What’s your next project?

I have a literary (or perhaps upmarket) manuscript in front of an agent right now and am working on another novel with a similar theme. I have a romance for Avalon kind of simmering in my mind and a really strong desire to get going on another play. I don’t sleep very well these days!

Hope you hear good things from the agent soon. What one tip would you offer writers?

Tend to your craft. Grow in characterization, build strength in structure on every level from plot to word choice. Don’t compromise good writing.

Wonderful advice, Shellie. I’ll be looking forward to your next release. And to your next play. Stained Glass Theatre isn’t so far away here. Thanks so much for being here.

You can find Shellie online at http://www.shelliefoltz.wordpress.com/. She is also on Facebook as Author Shellie Foltz and on Twitter. Her online oasis is Goodreads.com. She invites you to peruse her shelves and compare titles.

Both of Shellie’s novels are currently available at Barnes & Noble in Springfield, Missouri. They can also be purchased online through Barnes & Noble and through Amazon.


  1. I love the interview, Shellie. It's so interesting to me how and where writers do their writing. I choose thunderstorm sounds. I agree music can be distracting. I describe the way you word things as a poetic voice, and I love yours. Can't wait to read your books. Thanks for sharing.
    Diana Locke

    1. Hi Diana. I agree about the sound of thunderstorms. They make me feel all enclosed and private and all alone. Great writing environment.

  2. Nice interview ladies. I saw you at ORA and cataloged Love Under a Dark Sky at the library where I work. So nice to put faces with a book!

    1. Allison, what a great job you have. It must be such fun to open a box and see publications by friends and acquaintances. Loved your book, by the way. Looking forward to "Sky Pirate's Lady," too.

  3. Wonderful interview ladies and wonderful excerpt Shellie! You definitely have a poetic voice, something that normally comes through exceptionally well with historical novels. But yours works wonderfully with contemporary as well. Will download your books when I get a chance.
    Lori Leger

    1. Glad to see you, Lori. I agree about Shellie's poetic voice. It really creates an atmosphere. It would lend itself really well to historical scenes. And congrats on your own stories, BTW. Great reviews you've had.

  4. Shellie, I'm so glad you're here today. I've hope you would stop by ever since I heard you speak. You were so entertaining--and kept everyone there, even through a break. That's no mean feat, let me tell you. Best of luck with you upcoming projects.

  5. Now, that comment just published on its own, before I finished--or proofed it for spelling. Shellie, I hope you'll come back to visit when your next book is finished.