I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful Savannah Hendricks to the blog today to help celebrate the release of her latest novel, GROUNDED IN JANUARY! Check it out!
Kate Wilson hates to admit it, but she’s unhappy and can’t figure out why. Fearful of flying yet determined to find a reason for her unhappiness, she boards a flight headed for her Washington hometown.
Inn of the Woods owner and pilot, Oxnard Swanson struggles with accepting his multiple sclerosis diagnosis, realizing his dreams of marriage and a family might be over. Determined, he bides his time managing the inn, piloting his Cessna, and training his rescue dog Bayou.
Sparks quickly fly between Oxnard and Kate, when a snow storm forces her to find refuge in the Inn of the Woods. Maggie, a wise guest, suggests the couple step outside, where the magic of the snow offers answers to their search for happiness and a second chance at love.
Kate and Oxnard find love is like a snowflake, a unique and beautiful reminder of life’s continuation, as each snowflake melts into the eternal hope of spring.
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INTERVIEW WITH SAVANNAH
Can you tell us a little of your journey to publication with this book?
To be honest, Grounded in January took a rather quick path to publication. I work full-time and managed to write the story in about five months. I started small with submissions because it was my first time submitting an adult novel and I was hoping that if it was rejected I could obtain some feedback before I continued on. I’ve been writing for over fifteen years and most of my work is in children’s literature, so this was a huge step in a different direction. While I have written other adult pieces, this was the first time submitting a full-length novel.
How and why did you write it, how long did it take, how did you find your publisher, etc?
I wrote Grounded in January because I’ve always wanted to spread awareness about multiple sclerosis. My mom was diagnosed with it and our short relationship was centered on the disease. It affected my childhood in a negative and positive way. Of course, I didn’t want to make Grounded in January a depressing story. I’ve seen so many great outcomes of people with MS that I wanted to make sure when I had control (unlike real life) that everything worked out alright.
I started working on the story in November of 2017 and submitted it to a small number of publishers in June of 2018. At the time I’d recently lost my ‘heart’ dog and decided to write him into the story. To be honest I didn’t really see the dog’s role as a big piece until I started on edits and realized he blossomed into a bigger character and I loved it. A lot of writers out there will probably strangle me (I swear I have been in the trenches with rejections for years with other stories), but I had amazing feedback and requests for ‘fulls’ instantly.
I’d submitted children’s lit to Brother Mockingbird Publishing earlier, but they passed. So I figured I’d try again with Grounded in January. I was looking for a small publishing company because I wanted to have more say on the cover art and wanted the important aspects of the story to remain as is, and they allowed for both of these.
Is there a message in your novel for readers? Anything you'd love for them to take away from the experience?
Yes, I think because of my early childhood education background I find myself always writing with a universal message. For Grounded in January the message is about hope and discovery. It’s also about not assuming that your path has ended simply because you made a wrong turn earlier in life. I felt this way about my own life, getting married at nineteen, and divorcing twelve years later. I thought because I picked that specific path nothing would work out later in life, that I’d “blown it” so to speak. And I’m grateful that I had the hope and the faith to remind myself that it didn’t mean that at all.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Oh gosh, outside of writing in general (because plotting, characters, etc is hard work), writing about MS and putting my sweet dog’s mannerisms in the story was the hardest. Seeing my dog come back to life on the pages was bitter-sweet.
How have you grown as a writer and person from writing this novel?
This book has taught me more than I could possibly discuss in an interview without boring people! But overall, it has helped me realize I can write a complex story and that I’m rather great at it. It sounds stuck-up, but when I read the editor notes going through, even she wondered how I managed to weave all these little things in and out of the story. I’ve improved on my abilities to tell a story and improved my editing skills. There was a time when I would send a chapter to a CP and it was all marked up with red because of so many small grammar errors, but as grew in my skill set the red lessened immensely.
What books have most influenced your life and writing style/approach?
This is tough because when I wrote and sold my first picture book (Nonnie and I) nearly all of my fifty plus rejects read: LOVE THE STORY! HATE THE VOICE!
And I couldn’t change my writing style or voice so I improved on my craft, the way I told a story. Everyone that knows me knows how much I adore The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh, her writing has influenced me the most because it’s amazing. I actually find myself pausing and re-reading sentences in her books, and I never do this with other authors. My favorite books are books from the nineties and early two-thousands; I simply love the way they were written and the richness of the storytelling.
Which writer/s would you consider a mentor/inspiration?
(Again) Kat Yeh. She is so nice, always replying on social media if you reach out to her. I understand authors are busy and many are at celebrity status, but there is a disconnect for me when that happens. I love to showcase books I’m reading and post about them and if the author reaches out to me and acknowledges that, I remember. We are all equal and without readers, authors wouldn’t sell a single book.
Will we meet these characters again? What's next for you?
I’ve toyed with the idea of a follow up for Grounded in January with a few secondary characters, but we will see how well it does. I have two other sweet romance novels I’m readying for submission and those come first. After that I’m returning to a manuscript that I love more than chocolate cake and seeing what I can revise on it because I want it to see on bookshelves. I’m not giving up on it!
I have two picture books coming out later this year as well and will need to switch my focus over to them in the coming months. One is with the same publisher as Grounded in January, titled: Winston Versus the Snow, and the other is: The Book Who Lost its Title with Big Belly Book Co.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When Savannah Hendricks is not writing, she is a medical social worker. Prior she worked with special needs preschoolers and spent seven years as a nanny. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s in Criminal Justice. She is the author of Nonnie and I, a picture book about the first day of school anxieties set in Botswana. Her stories have been included in over 20 children’s magazines, and is the co-author of Child Genius 101: The Ultimate Guide to Early Childhood Development: Vol 1 & 2. She has two new picture books releasing this year, Winston Versus the Snow and The Book Who Lost its Title.
FOLLOW SAVANNAH'S JOURNEY HERE!
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