Journey of 100 Books

I firmly believe every journey begins with a step. Just one step.

My writing journey started with a nudge from my husband.

One cold, winter day twelve years ago, I’d just finished reading a book that was horrible. I turned to my husband, Captain Cavedweller, and said, “I can’t believe a publisher put this into print. I can do better than this.”

“So do it,” he said, throwing down the gauntlet of challenge, then returned to watching the football game I’d interrupted.

On a February day, much like this one, I worked up my courage, sat down at my computer,  and decided to give writing a romance novel a try. For months, the idea for a story had been simmering in my thoughts, but I hadn’t known what to do with it. Now I did. I had a challenge thanks to CC and a purpose – to take the story in my head and write a book. The contemporary sweet western romance was about a 30-something couple on the brink of walking away from their marriage. I titled the book Heart of Clay.

Although I had no idea what I was doing, the words poured out and in less than three weeks, I’d written a full-length novel. I spent the next several months rewriting, editing, and enduring a few anxiety-driven panic attacks. Finally, I decided it was ready to submit to an agent. Visions of royalty checks, fame and fortune danced in my head as I eagerly sent out one letter after another, attempting to convince someone my book was the next bestseller just waiting to happen.

A few months later, I’d received my 67th rejection letter, most of them stating they weren’t interested in a romance with a cowboy. (Isn’t it always a good time for a cowboy romance?) In spite of the multitude of rejections, many of them arrived with personal notes that were encouraging.

Frustrated yet determined, I reached out to a good friend who happened to be friends with the author Jane Kirkpatrick. She introduced the two of us and Jane kindly allowed me to pick her brain for ideas. To this day, I consider Jane a dear friend and mentor. But in that first conversation we had, she suggested I give digital self-publishing a try.

I was clueless. Self-publishing? What was that? So, I dove into researching the possibilities and what it would entail. It took me less than a week to decide this was what I wanted to do.  I loved the thought of having complete control over all aspects of my books. It seemed like an ideal option for someone like me who prefers to pilot my own boat. Rather than immediately upload my wanna-be bestseller to all the digital book outlets available, I followed the advice I’d found on self-publishing websites that recommended indie authors build their bookshelves wide and deep, meaning authors should ideally have a variety of books (the width) and a number of books in a series (the depth).

I jumped into writing two more full-length sweet romances and a short story, all connected to Heart of Clay, creating a series of three books with a prequel. I titled the series The Women of Tenacity. I liked that word, tenacity, because my dad had mentioned more than once that I had a tendency to be tenacious.

In June 2011, I released all four stories online. Nervous, excited, and uncertain, I had no idea what to expect. Within a few hours, some awesome, wonderful person purchased a Kindle version of the second book in the series – my very first book sale. That month, I sold a whopping 12 books.

Despite my lackluster sales, I was hooked on writing sweet romances and the self-publishing process. So I used every spare minute to write.

That November, I released The Cowboy’s Christmas Plan, the first Christmas book I’d written and also the first book in the popular Grass Valley Cowboys series.

Throughout 2012, I continued working full-time at my day job, working part-time with a home products direct-sales company, and writing in my spare time. In November of that year, I published my first historical romance. I had no clue what it would involve to write a historical book, but I’ve always loved history and thought it might be interesting to try.

I hadn’t planned on writing a holiday story, but it ended up being titled The Christmas Bargain, about a banker who accepts a bride in lieu of payment on a loan during the holiday season. The story is set in Hardman, Oregon, which is now a ghost town, but at one time was a bustling stop on a stage route. I had such a good time writing that first book, there are now nine books in the series with plans for more.

It was while I was writing The Christmas Bargain I discovered how much I enjoy doing the research for historical stories. I love digging up little tidbits of history that I can incorporate into my books to add depth to the stories and the characters, while offering a glimpse into everyday life during a specific era.

By the start of 2013, I gave up the part-time direct-sales job, determined to spend more time writing. That spring, I released the first book in my Pendleton Petticoats series about a bride from Chicago who comes to be a farmer’s wife.

Aundy, has been one of my readers’ favorites.

The summer of 2013 was a pivotal point in my writing career. I was working between 50-60 hours a week at a job that was becoming increasing stressful and challenging. Every spare second I had went to my writing.

On a hot summer morning, not long after I arrived at work, Captain Cavedweller called me at my office and encouraged me to give my notice and begin writing full time. “You can do this,” he said. In spite of my fears, I took a leap of faith, buoyed by CC’s belief in me.

It was a huge leap—to leave behind the security of a steady job and paycheck, to walk away from benefits and paid vacation days—but I’m so glad I took it and I’m so grateful for my husband’s support that made it possible.

So I gave my notice and left my job on August 9, 2013, to begin the career of my dreams.

Every day, I feel so blessed to be able to do something I love so much. Writing has always been something I loved, and now it’s my career, my hobby, my joy – my bliss!

When I sat down to write Heart of Clay twelve years ago, I never, not even once, imagined that I’d be celebrating the release of my 100th book.  But here I am!

The Snowman’s Sweetheart, my 100th book, released January 27.

It’s been an amazing, incredible journey to get here that started with one step, one little nudge in the form of challenge from Captain Cavedweller.  I’m thankful for every single step on this marvelous adventure. And I am deeply, profoundly grateful for each and every person who has touched my life during the journey. Thank you for reading my books, for offering encouragement and support, for extending friendship and wisdom, and leaving my heart so full and my life so blessed.

Thank you!

 

 

I have a special giveaway of a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

Just hop over to this form to enter for a chance to win. 

 

And before you go, I’d love to hear about a special step in your life’s journey. 

 

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After spending her formative years on a farm in Eastern Oregon, hopeless romantic Shanna Hatfield turns her rural experiences into sweet historical and contemporary romances filled with sarcasm, humor, and hunky western heroes.
When this USA Today bestselling author isn’t writing or covertly hiding decadent chocolate from the other occupants of her home, Shanna hangs out with her beloved husband, Captain Cavedweller.

64 thoughts on “Journey of 100 Books”

  1. Congratulations!

    When my youngest went to kindergarten, I started writing. I wrote a book in four months, but then I tabled it. It took me several more years before I wrote again, but I did, entered it in a contest, won runner-up, and was published in short story.

    denise

  2. Congratulations! 100 books is quite an accomplishment. I only have 30 of them, so I need to get busy.

  3. Very cool! I become an aunt in the next few hours! So many new steps in life. Wish I celebrated each more while going through them.

  4. Good morning Ms. Shanna- I am so proud of you and your tenacity to dive into the unknown and give your passion a try. Each of us are so glad that you did. I haven’t read all of your books yet, but I’d say 1/2 of them. Soooo…. That means I have many more great books ahead for my pleasure.
    I took a leap of faith leaving all of my family in Texas to move to Kansas right after graduating from College to follow my dream job of raising pigs. It was the best decision (looking back now), but when I 1st did it, I thought I’d LOST my mind. The greatest part of that decision was meeting Mr. Rob.. he’s been my rock. My 2nd accomplishment was deciding to get sober and go to treatment. I did, and this past September 24th, I celebrated 21 years sober.

    I’m so proud of you and congrats on 100 books. Way to go my Dear, Sweet Friend.

    • I’m proud of you for pursuing your dreams, and especially for being sober for 21 years! That is so huge! You are amazing and I appreciate you so much! Loads of love, my friend, and many thanks!

  5. I enjoyed reading your road to being one of my favorite authors , I’m so happy you took the risk to write such amazing books. To follow your dreams is a great accomplishment , 100 books is an amazing journey congratulations!! I know when I see any of your books that I’m going to love it and who doesn’t love a hot cowboy and a beautiful heroine!!

    I can’t say I followed my dreams but I learned to survive after losing my mom, getting divorced leaving me with 2 children to raise . My family never mentioned getting education, in the 50’s my mother and family highest grade was 8th grade so I never had any interest in school. I made it through 10th grade , but later in life I knew if I was going to raise my children I needed to go back to school. I started with getting my GED in 1987, then signed up for night school taking every college course I could as working also 2 jobs to support my family. Long story short I managed to get my education in Business Management I just retired after 30 years in banking, and as I look back I’m proud of the road I took.

    • Wow, Rose Ann! I so admire you for taking such a big step and going to night school while working and raising your children. So proud of you, and happy retirement!
      Thank you for reading my books and always being so sweet! I appreciate you so much!

  6. Congratulations, Shanna! I dove into writing head-first with no clue either. I love seeing your new books and things you’ve accomplished. On my hard days, I try to remind myself of you and other writing friends. If you guys can do it, so can I. It can feel uphill sometimes, but it’s such a wonderful journey. Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

    • Oh, Jess! It can be hard, even when it is completely wonderful. You always amaze me with all you accomplish while being such an amazing mom to your sweet kiddos. Big hugs, my friend!

  7. You are a workaholic, Shanna! Your drive and tenacity just blows my mind. But I know it’s not work when you love what you do, when it’s a joy to get up every morning and head into your office.

    You have creativity oozing out of your pores! I don’t know how you contain it all. LOL.

    Congratulations on 100 books, my friend. Truly amazing.

    • Yes, I am! But, as you said, most of the time it doesn’t feel like work! You are so sweet, and I’m so grateful for you and your friendship, Pam! Thank you, thank you!
      And I do ooze something, although my husband would say it’s more likely sarcasm than creativity! LOL!

  8. I jumped on a ledge and started my own costume business. I’m still struggling through but I hope to make it great

  9. What a HUGE accomplishment, Shanna! So proud of all you’ve accomplished. It blows my mind that you have 100 books in such a short time. My first book was published in 2010 and I only have 22. I’m a such a slacker compared to you. Ha! Your readers are so blessed by the stories you tell. Here’s to the next 100! 🙂

    • Thank you so much, sweet Karen! You are not a slacker! Your books are so beautiful and so beloved by your fans! And I feel like you have had a part in my journey because I’ve always loved reading your books and been inspired by them. So thank you! <3

  10. Congratulations. This is a huge success story. Way to go Captain Cave dweller. Way to go Shannon for accepting the challenge. I love reading your stories. They are full of romance but also heart. Thank you. Prayers that you keep up the gift that God has given you. I have had numerous steps in my journey of life. One is: when I was six I wanted to sew like mom. Well she showed me how to hand sew clothes for my troll and doll. She was so much help every step of the way until she died. When I was 10 I went into 4-H. Of course sewing was one of my subjects. At this time mom showed me how to use the sewing machine. Oh but that was the beginning of everything. I loved to sew on the machine. I made a bunch of my own clothes. When I was in high school mom and I took a quilting class. Ohhhhhh to say I was hooked was a huge understatement. I just loved cutting up fabric and sewing it back together to make something totally different. I made clothes for both of our kids until they no longer wanted home made clothes. I quilted for new babies, graduations etc. I quilted for my son when he went into civil war reenacting. A reproduction of a civil war quilt with reproduction fabrics. I also made him a wedding civil war quilt. Taught our daughter to quilt. She picked up real fast with that. quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

    • Hi Lori,
      That is so neat that your mom taught you how to sew and it’s become a life-long love for you. I bet your quilts are just gorgeous! So cool that you made civil war reproduction quilts.
      And thank you for your kind words and readership. I so appreciate it!
      Keep on quilting!

  11. My dream “job” fell into my lap in January of 2020, when I became a paid editor/proofreader. God blessed me with it, as it was a dream I only ever mentioned once to my Mom. Thankfully, Mom was still alive when I started it, though she passed away in December of 2020. It’s the 2nd job I never thought I’d have, as I also sell insurance. I started selling insurance after I’d been home a year as Mom’s caregiver. God has blessed it, too, as it’s growing, also.

    • That is wonderful about your dream job, Trudy. I love that you get to do that, and you started while your mom was still with you when you started. I’m so sorry for your loss, and so glad things are going well for you. Blessings to you!

  12. One of my big steps was going back to college and graduating at 39. It took me 5 years. I was divorced with 3 children at that time. I worked being a pre-school teacher and now am retired.

  13. Shanna, I’m amazed at your accomplishment! It takes a HUGE amount of work to put out 100 books and I’m so glad you let us help you celebrate!! Your readers adore you and with good reason. HUGE CONGRATS, Filly Sister!

  14. Shanna, so happy to hear about your journey and so pleased that indie publishing works for you, as it does for so many people. I’m amused that that early publisher turned down a “cowboy” romance, they are all over the place now, but you were obviously ahead of your time. Congratulations on 100 books!

  15. Congratulations on the 100th book. Wow, what a journey you have had! I guess my biggest leap of faith was getting married and moving 300 miles away from home. It all worked out though. We just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.

    • Happy Anniversary to you! That had to be so hard moving so many miles away from home and loved ones. And getting marries is a big adjustment all by itself. So glad you’ve had so many wonderful years of marriage. And thank you!

  16. Congratulations on your 100th Book Shana! I have been volunteer teaching Catechism for over 25 yrs and I started by subbing for one of my friends classes. Well, she got a job and she couldn’t volunteer teaching Catechism anymore so she asked me if I would take over her class for the rest of the year, well I went ahead and did and then I was asked if I could be one of the volunteer teachers, I thought about it for a couple of days and I said yes I would do it. I taught for over 25 years and I still give my granddaughter who is 15 who is working towards her Confirmation this May and I also give our grandson who is 13 his lessons, I have been teaching my 2 grandchildren for 8yrs now, they are the only ones I give lessons to. I am so very glad and very happy that I said “yes” to teaching Catechism, it is so very rewarding. I love it. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe.

    • Hi Alicia! Oh, that’s wonderful you said “yes” to something that has brought you so much joy for so many years. I love hearing that! And thank you for the congrats. I so appreciate it! Have a beautiful day!

  17. Congratulations, Shanna! 100 books, what an accomplishment. I love that you write real cowboys who have to do so much more than ride horses and check on cattle, like set pipe, make hay, and even seed and harvest wheat. And you are showing the rest of the world what it is like in our great Inland Pacific Northwest. Along with that you have given us lots of laughs.

    The big step in my life was getting married and moving 2800 miles from my large (26 first cousins) very close knit family. It also meant learning to live with 6-8 inches of moisture in a year instead of 30 inches and all of the differences that brings to agriculture.

    • Hi Alice,
      Thank you so much. I do try to “keep it real” in my stories! And from my years on a farm, life is full of funny moments!

      Wow! That is a huge step getting married and moving so far away from your family and such a difference in climate. So many big life changes right there all at once. And I bet you did it all with grace!

  18. Shanna … I am now grandchildless … so I have time to soak in your blog. Ha! Is that even a word? Sadie is a book that I will always treasure. Very gripping. I haven’t read all 100 books though. But I have read many of them. Thank you for taking CC advice to start writing. And to think you self publish! Fantastic!

    Being true to one’s self is rewarding. I’m glad you did that and look at the journey you have been on. Love you! I’m proud of you.

    • Hi Kathy,
      Thank you so, so much for your kind words. I’m so thankful for your readership and friendship. Sadie is a book that will always linger in my heart. I’m so glad you enjoyed her story too! Love and hugs to you!

  19. Shanna, I am TOTALLY in awe. I can’t even imagine writing 100 books. I’m a very slow writer. And that must have been terribly hard to leave the security of a job, paycheck, etc. and take that leap of faith. Your husband is wonderful to be so supportive! Congratulations on your huge accomplishment. You really are “living the dream”–I’m so happy for you!

    • Thank you so much, Cheryl! I do feel like I’m living a dream most days. It was a big leap of faith, but I’ve never, not even once, regretted it!
      We all write at our own speed and your books are amazing! Keep up the great work!

  20. Congrats!! on your 100th book.. I am so glad your hubby challenged you. I really enjoy your books. My journey has been to help others with their everyday needs.

  21. Shanna, I am in my 70’s and during my life I have had many things I wanted to do, none of which I actually pursued. My first desire was to be a librarian (but I did not attend college for that degree) Then I wanted to have my own business so I became a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant which was successful, for a while. Moving to another area stopped that progress in moving up. Lastly, my wish was to have my own used book store perhaps with a coffee shop so my customers could have a coffee or tea while reading in my lounging area. I even visited a prospective site but was not able to get up the courage to move on with it. Oh well, I still very much love to read and prior to books being downloaded to my I-pad I owned several paperback books as well as hardcover reads. My success’s would be having a very loving and loyal husband as well as 2 (two) wonderful children in my life. I could not ask for anything more. My love of My Savior has definitely been the greatest occurrence in my life and I give Him all the Glory. Many blessings to you and your family.

    • Hi Judy, It sounds like you’ve had a beautiful life full of happiness and blessings. So happy for you and those things that have brought you joy and filled your heart! And thank you so much!

  22. Congratulations, Shanna. Your books are a delight.

    When I was a freshman in high school, I heard President Kennedy’s speech establishing the Peace Corps and decided then and there I was going to join. After finishing high school and getting my Bachelor of Science degree I left for 3 years in the Peace Corps. It was such a wonderful experience. I got so much more from it than I could ever try to give back. For someone who rarely traveled more than 50 miles from home (even living at home during college), going to the other side of the world by myself was an experience. Letters were the only way to communicate. There were no cell phones or computers for contacting family and friends. It finally allowed me to become my own person, being able to develop further my desire to help people and hopefully better the community I lived in. That is something I have tried to do to this day.

    • Hi Patricia!
      Thank you so much. I’m so glad you enjoy my books.
      And wow! What a big leap you took serving in the Peace Corps for three years. That is amazing! What a beautiful thing to spend those years in service and growing into your own person. That’s fantastic! And I so admire you for your desire to help people and better the world around you. Love it!

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