This morning I'm chatting with June Shaw, author of the Cealie Gunter mystery series which features a spunky widow who “thinks” she wants to avoid her hunky ex-lover so she can rediscover herself.
However, he keeps opening Cajun restaurants in all the places Cealie travels, and she is so bad at avoiding tempting dishes and men. Most readers describe her books as fun. That's probably FUN in capital letters!
June lives along a lazy bayou in south Louisiana surrounded by her large family and loved ones. She says she was surprised when Publishers Weekly and other reviewers gave Relative Danger, the first book in the Cealie Gunther series of humorous mysteries, excellent reviews.
When Deadly Ink nominated the book for their David for Best Mystery of the Year, June couldn't believe it. If you've read her books, you won't have any difficulty in believing the accolades.
Book & Author Details
Here's the information on June and her book so you can get your own copy.
Title: Relative Danger (also available in Kindle Edition
Standard Print Hardcover Publisher: Five Star/Gale-Cengage; Large Print: Wheeler
You can catch June Shaw at her website or her other favorite web hangouts like Facebook.
If you want to email her, you can use this addy: jushaw at bellsouth dot net.
Inquiring Minds Want To Know
Let's get the conversational ball rolling with some fun questions.
Joan: What's your favorite morning beverage and your evening beverage?
June: I drink coffee during much of the day. At night I often have a light beer. (Hey, I live in south Louisiana!)
Joan: Do you have a TV guilty pleasure?
June: I always watch the N.O. Saints play football, and view games at home, normally with only my squeeze Bob. I wear one of my Saints’ shirts and get my Saints’ cap and gold pom-poms ready on the coffee table. Any time they make a touchdown, I toss on my cap and grab the pom-poms and start cheering and kissing anyone who happens to be in the room. Then I set the cap and pom-poms back on the table to wait for the next score.
Joan: What about it appeals to you?
June: Cheering for a team that was an underdog for so many years, and getting excited. My children and grandchildren think I’m so funny. In the past, friends often said I was more entertaining than the game.
Joan: Name a book, any genre, that means a lot to you and tell us why.
June: Thorn Birds meant a lot. That book drew me in and did not let me stop reading, and now years later I can still think about it and immerse myself in some scenes in my mind.
Joan: Name a book that you were forced to read in school that you think was a time waste and please tell us why. (In school, because that means dead authors because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
June: The Light in August: It was full of stream of consciousness, which was horribly boring.
Joan: You've been writing a long time. In fact, one could easily use, as a headline for your story, "A Lifelong Dream Leads to Success." How long have you been working at your craft?
June: Wow, what a long journey. An extended version of it was published in the October issue of The Writer in an essay I wrote: "Forget Her Writing Dream? Not an Option."
I’ve wanted to write since I was fifteen but kept busy with school and married young and had five children in six years. I became a widow when the oldest was eleven, finished a college degree, and started teaching in public schools. Then I tried to write. I only had time to read or write short pieces, so I eventually sold a couple of poems and essays.
Seeing my name in print and getting paid for writing was exciting. I read about how to write screenplays and tried some. One aired on a channel for the arts and another did well in contests, but producers wanted me to move to L.A. I wouldn’t. A female producer suggested I try novels. The idea for Relative Danger came from one of the scripts I’d once written.
Joan: The book about which we're talking today was what number book for you? 1st, 3rd, 7th?
June: I don’t remember, but it certainly wasn’t my first. Or second. Or third. Those were for practice. I know that now but didn’t at the time.
Joan: Tell us something about this particular book. How did you come up with the title, and do you have a 1 sentence blurb or log line to tease readers?
June: Relative Danger has a dual meaning, as do the other books in this series. In this book, no one is certain for a while about whether the victim’s death was accidental or a murder.
My sleuth Cealie Gunther becomes a substitute teacher at her motherless granddaughter’s high school to help discover whether a custodian fell in the auditorium or was murdered, making a killer decide someone Cealie loves may become the next victim.
Joan: This book is one you also made available for eBook readers. How did you make that transition from print to eBook?
June: I sold Relative Danger to Five Star/Gale-Cengage first, and they published it in hardcover. I then sold mass market reprint rights to Harlequin, and they put the book in paperback. Neither publisher owns e-book rights, so I’ve recently put the book up on Kindle and at Smashwords.
Joan: Do you have any "under the bed" books? If so, how many, and what do you plan to do with them?
June: I do but don’t know how many. I hope to revisit some in the future to make them better and try to sell them.
Joan: If they made a movie of your book, who would be cast to portray the characters?
June: I am so glad you asked! Cealie would be Bette Middler. And the hunky ex-lover she tries to avoid is Sean Connery. (Sure wish they’d be looking for projects now.)
Joan: What keeps you going when you get rejected?
June: First I need to mope for an hour or two. But I know that almost everyone has some work rejected, so I remember that and go on.
Joan: What's your favorite "oh darn I got a rejection" food and/or drink to soothe the savaged ego?
June: Chocolate works just fine and sometimes a margarita.
Joan: Who are your writing influences?
June: Janet Evanovich is the author whose work I wanted to emulate. I love the humor and romance in her mysteries.
Joan: What are you working on now?
June: I'm waiting for the release of Deadly Reunion,the third book in my series which comes out in July. Here's a quick blurb for it: "What if you go on a class reunion on a cruise ship in Alaska—and people die?"
Since I sold that book, I’ve started writing a book about my mom called Nora 102 ½: A Lesson on Aging Well." My mother Nora passed on last year at that age. She was amazing! The Tonight Show with Jay Leno invited her and me to be on their show when they read that she was 102 and still coming to line dance lessons with me. Her attitude and spunk made everyone around here tell me I needed to write a book about her. So I am.
Joan: Good for you. I helped my mom write her memoir, and I published it for her two years ago. She passed this year, and I'm so grateful that I had that time to work with her and discover her as a person, from a child to a just married World War II bride, not just as my mom.
Joan: What do you now know that you wish you'd known when you started?
June: I thought I could just sit and write. I had no idea of the amount of promotion most authors have to do.
Joan: What's the best thing about writing?
June: I love creating people and their lives. What comes out on my computer screen often amazes me. I love the creativity.
Joan: What's the worst thing about writing?
June: Sitting alone to keep writing is tough, especially when you stay with something a long time and have no idea whether it will sell or not.
Joan: What advice would you give someone just starting out?
June: Persist. If you want to write, do it because you enjoy it. You probably won’t sell everything you write, so you need to love the creativity, just like all people who paint won’t sell all of their paintings. They do it for enjoyment. Read in the area that you want to write. Read more. And write. And read more and write.
June: Do you have any particular advice for a writer wanting to publish?
Don’t give up. It took years from the time inspiration struck for me to want to write. I didn’t have time because of my job and large family. I became a grandmother and took my aging mother in to live with me—and then I finally sold a book. And then another one. And another.
Keep at it. Love what you do.
Joan: Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to share or is there anything else you'd like to tell us about anything?
June: Yes. Writing is fun and exciting. And getting published can take your breath away. Those of us who like to create people and places are blessed. Enjoy your talent. And good luck! I’ve love to know about your successes.
Until next time, remember, a good book is a little vacation from the cares of life. Enjoy one today.