About the Book
Genre: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult, LDS, Mystery, Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
True, it was her prison, but it was also her sanctuary.
Where can you turn when your house is not safe? In a small coastal town in Oregon, Amber and Kelly know the deadliest people sleep down the hall. As they attempt to escape the violent, domineering men in their lives, despair fights against faith and hope as an introduction to the Book of Mormon promises them a haven they can’t find in their homes. But getting out of these abusive situations is not as easy as it appears. With their lives spiraling out of control, can they have faith that God’s grace will save them?
About the Author
Shannon Symonds announces her first book, “Safe House,” a 2017 Whitney Award Nominee released by Cedar Fort Publishing and Media in July of 2017.
Shannon worked for 15 years as an Advocate. Shannon lives in a small seaside town where she works, writes, runs and paints. She believes the word can be changed one heart at a time and then even small acts can make a difference.
1. What top 5 books do you currently have on your TBR pile?
5) I just finished Traci Abramson’s version of, Safe House, and loved it. I would like to go back and read the 1st book in the guardian series. I met Traci at Storymaker’s Conference in Utah and she is not only fun and entertaining, she is as deep and caring as the characters in her stories.
4) I am currently reading, The Road to Freedom, by Shawn Pollock. I look forward to reviewing it on my blog. Already, I love his descriptions.
3) I want to finish Melanie Bateman’s The Time
Key. I am part way through and have had to read other books. I look forward to finishing it.
2) One by One by David A. Bednar. My daughter is a relief society president and she said the book was invaluable. She recommended I read it in relation to my work with survivors. I have it downloaded in my Deseret Book, “Book Shelf,” and will listen while I clean, weed, and work.
1) The Book of Mormon, Old Testament. A little time with the scriptures on my iPhone, or audio each morning fills my spiritual bucket. I can’t face the world without bolstering my faith. We live in pretty tough times. I believe, no matter what you believe spiritually, time spent on your physical, mental, and spiritual growth is time well spent.
2. What does your writing process look like and specifically what did it look like for Safe House?
I run daily on the beach or cement seawall called the “Prom,” by my house. I usually see the story I am working on like a movie while I am running. I think about the characters and spend time with my imaginary friends. Although I had the story outlined before I started writing Safe House, dialogue and little details were worked out by the sea. When I got home, I sat by my fireplace and wrote on a laptop.
When I wrote Safe House, I began in the winter. I spent many nights by the fire writing and then calling my sister Stacy to read to her, or reading my work out loud to Scott. When I finished it, I mailed it to Stacy and my cousin Kristi who red-penciled it and sent it back. They were my greatest cheerleaders.
I sent it to one publisher, who referred me to another. I rewrote the whole thing, changing a main character and had Stacy read it one more time. Stacy suggested I name it, “Saving Grace.” We were both excited by the name Grace, I changed my main character’s name.
I was so afraid to send it in, I let it gather dust for a while. Stacy kept pushing me. Finally, I sent it online to Cedar Fort. I will forever be grateful to Stacy for pushing me, and Cedar Fort for publishing my first novel.
Stacy passed away from Cancer a week before she could hold a hard copy in her hand. I gave her the first PDF copy and if you open the cover, you will see the book is dedicated to her. Stacy worked on the “Christmas Box House Foundation,” with Richard Evans, and did many other service projects internationally. She never told anyone. She never asked for attention. She gave all the credit to God. I am so grateful my sister Stacy and I had the Safe House adventure together and that I get to give her the credit she deserves.
3. What can you tell us about the sequel to Safe House (your current WIP)? What is this story about and when will it release?
The sequel to Safe House is a stand-alone story which takes place in the same beach town of Necanicum on the Pacific Coast as Safe House and with some of the same characters. Reader’s favorite characters like Advocate Grace James, her family, and Joe Hart are back. You will also meet Hope.
Grace James, Sexual Assault Advocate, and single mother is seeing signs of sex trafficking in the small coastal town of Necanicum, but what she doesn’t see is a way to do her job and protect her own family while Morgan, her ex-husband is out of prison. Will she and officer Joe Hart be able to stop the spreading evil before Hope Experience Flanagan, a homeless 17-year-old disappears forever or will Morgan take Grace’s life at the same time as he and his partner Vlad plan to take Hope to sea forever?
I have an outline and a partial manuscript! I am so excited about this story. I love the characters. I currently run in the morning, work with foster youth at FosterClub during the day, and write at night. The draft will be complete June 1 if I can keep up the pace. I hope to have copy edits done in June. A book takes time to put together after it is approved by a publisher so I don’t have any dates yet.
4. Can you tell us what a day in the life of Shannon Symonds, Author looks like? What type of writing schedule do you have and what other obligations do you have on any given day?
I think I am a pretty typical woman, I have more work than hours in a day. I wake up at 5:30 and run. I have my hair down to 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I just can’t get my shower down to less than 20 minutes of luxury. I am a gluten free, dairy free, fun free kind of eater, so I pack breakfast and lunch for work and listen to scriptures.
During the day, I work at FosterClub, a national non-profit headquartered in Seaside, Oregon with an office in Washington D.C. I am the Outreach Manager. About 27 interns join us each summer for training and then go out and work with youth, state-level stakeholders, child welfare professionals, and policymakers across the country. It is busy!
After work, during the week, I write. I usually eat by the computer. I drag it to bed and write until I can’t stay awake any longer.
My daughter, her husband, and my adorable grandson Elliott live with me. Occasionally I break away from writing to bike ride with Elliott or take him for a walk to the beach. Fridaynight is date night. Saturday is run and family time. We fish, clam, have bonfires, hike, and kayak. If it rains or storms, I write (Sometimes I pray for more rain!)
I never write or work on Sunday. Sunday is for family and good books. I have six children and their families. We try to get together a few times a month on Sundays. During the summer about 50 of my closest relatives also come to town and stay in my house, our family beach house, “Lassie Hame,” which is just down the road, or my sister’s nearby “River House.” So I need to get my next book done before the gang gets to town June 17th.
My parents also have an apartment in my house and stay with me for 3 or so months a year. I love it when they come. My mother is a wonderful cook and helps me with the flowers. When I write in the evenings, she comes in to read or keep me company by the fire.
So you see, all in all normal. Trying every day to serve others and figure out what is good, better, or best.
Sneak Peek from Book 2
Hope Experience Flanagan had to get out of the Rat’s trailer tonight. It made more sense to wait until her 18th birthday, or until the cold Oregon Coast weather warmed, but everything told her the Rat was dangerous and she was out of time.
“Come on Hope! I just want you to watch a movie with me.” the Rat begged from the other side of her locked bedroom door.
“I’m not coming out until Mom’s home!”
“See how nice I am! Your Mom hasn’t been home for weeks and I let you stay with me.”
“Just let me finish my homework,” she said nicely, trying to hide her frustration.
The flimsy bedroom door in the timeworn 1967 Rancho trailer shook angrily. Poised to move, Hope held her breath until it stopped. “You promise?” he yelled.
Finally, she heard the Rat shuffle down the little hall. Five foot one Richard Culligan, ironically known as ‘Rich’ to his friends, and Rat to her, was her mother’s latest partner in a steady stream of companions. Hope hated them all.
The lacey ice on the windows of the Rat’s ancient trailer was as much on the inside in winter as on the outside. The trailer hadn’t moved for more years than Hope had been alive. It was parked in the Yeti Trailer Haven among other molding heaps of aluminum hidden by forest, vines, and foliage which obliterated their existence. Hope thought it was the best part of the coast. Magic green that erased every sign of man if you gave it long enough.
She sat on an old sleeping bag on a bare mattress, headphones in, music playing, when hailstones began pelting the aluminum walls. Gradually the torrent picked up. Larger and larger hailstones assaulted the windows so loudly it broke through her music and then it stopped.
Everything else she owned was packed in her old orange backpack including a Ziploc bag with a picture of her missing mother. Quietly, she pulled back the red rug, moved a loose floorboard, and dropped her pack into the black hole. Then, Hope slid down through the same hole and out from under Rich Culligan’s trailer forever.
Grace James had a smile painted on her face, but her nylons had gradually fallen until she was sure the crotch was at her bony knees and below the hem of her skirt. She had been wearing two hour high heels for four hours and her feet begged for mercy. She stood tall, at the end of her thirties with her long blond hair sprayed into submission on stage next to her boss in the old Victorian Church, now the Bay City Performing Arts Center.
Grace’s boss Eunice had the microphone. Her gray bob looked purple in the spotlight. She took off her bedazzled cat eye glasses, and said to the audience, “Next I want to introduce our senior advocate, Grace James.”
Hailstones started pelting the large stained glass windows in the ancient hall.
Every head turned to look at the row of 20-foot windows lining both sides of the room as a cascade threatened to break through the glass. The echo was deafening and then ended almost as quickly as it started.
***NOTE: The working title for book two is FINDING HOPE by Shannon Symonds. This book is not currently under contract and is in a draft form (although it has been to an editor).
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